Boris Johnson announced tonight a series of reduced lockdown restrictions that will come into force across England. In a fifteen-minute statement broadcast to the nation, the Prime Minister laid out a three-step plan that will eventually lead to the reopening of England’s schools, shops and hospitality sector. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were not covered in his address as lockdown rules are devolved to their respective national governments.
Under the new plans, all workers who are unable to work from home are encouraged to get back to work; albeit with the caveat for them not to use public transport. This will likely affect industries like construction and maintenance. Additional measures include the lifting of exercise limitations; from Monday, people will be allowed out for an unlimited amount of time, will be able to drive to take part in exercise and will be able to partake in outdoor activities like sunbathing.
An additional effect of tonight’s announcement was the establishing of a new COVID-19 Alert System. The system acts rather like the current terror alert system with Level 1 equating that COVID-19 has been eradicated in England and Level 5 that a full-blown health crisis is underway. Currently, England is on Level 4 but, as Johnson explained, heading quickly towards Level 3.
Stage 2 of the plan will enter play “no earlier than June 1” and will involve the conditional opening of shops and primary schools. Students in Reception, Year One and Year 6 will be encouraged to return to school after the second stage of the plan is implemented, as will students in secondary schools who are expecting to take exams next year. The final stage of the plan, Stage 3, is expected to be implemented “no earlier than July 1” and will see the reintroduction of some of England’s hospitality industries. The Prime Minister also announced plans to enforce a period of quarantine on any arrivals coming to the UK via air but no further details of this were announced. He is expected to make a further statement tomorrow in the House of Commons.