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Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces relaxation of Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown in England

By Scott Maclennan

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced an easing of the lockdown in England, allowing people to enjoy unlimited outdoor exercise, travel to other destinations and a return to work for those who cannot work from home.

He also revealed a five stage alert scheme – where five is the worst level, with the NHS overwhelmed – claiming England is currently at level four and ready to move to level three.

Mr Johnson also outlined the stages that he hopes will see children return to school in England – the earliest being June 1 – and the reopening of some parts of the hospitality industry, possibly in July.

On the work front he said: “We said (previously) that you should work from home if you can and only go to work if you must.

"We now need to stress anyone who can't work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work and we want it to be safe for you to get to work, so you should avoid public transport if at all possible, because we must and will maintain social distancing and capacity will therefore be limited.

"Work from home if you can but you should go to work if you can't work from home. And to ensure you are safe at work we've been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces Covid-secure.

“And, when you do go to work, if possible do so by car, or even better by walking or bicycle, but just as with workplaces public transport operators will also be following secure standards.

“From this Wednesday, we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of exercise – you can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports, but only with the members of your own house.

"If we as a nation are able to fulfill the steps that I have set out we may be able to go further. In Step two, at the earliest by June 1 after half-term, we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools in stages, beginning with reception year one and year six.

"Our ambition is that secondary pupils exams next year, will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays. Shortly we will be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops on transport.

"And step three, at the earliest by July and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice, we will hope to reopen at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places provided they are safe and enforce social distancing."

Earlier today First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ruled out significant changes to lockdown in Scotland.

The only change in Scotland, from tomorrow, is that people will be allowed to leave their homes for exercise more than once a day.

Related articles: Exercise more than once a day allowed in first easing of Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown in Scotland

Number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Highlands goes up

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