PM to give more detail on ‘unclear’ and ‘confused’ lockdown easing plan

Boris Johnson is to give more detail on his plan to ease the coronavirus lockdown amid criticism that his TV address was confusing.

A 50-page document will be published in parliament later to add detail to the prime minister’s “first sketch” on how the restrictions in England could be eased over the next three months.

Sunday’s announcement included measures taking effect this week, such as removing the limit on exercise and allowing people to sunbathe in parks, as well as a potential return for some schoolchildren in June.

Mr Johnson also told the nation that anyone who cannot work from home should now be “actively encouraged” to go to work.

© Getty The two-metre rule will still govern people’s life outside the home

The PM stressed his plan was conditional on meeting five government tests to ensure the virus is under control and said it would be “madness” to risk a second spike in cases.

But political opponents, businesses and unions have urged more clarity.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Johnson’s statement raised “more questions than answers”.

“I think what the country wanted tonight was real clarity and a sense of consensus – and I’m afraid we haven’t got that,” said Sir Keir.

Gallery: How countries are edging out of COVID-19 lockdown (Photo Services) 

Slide 1 of 28: MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 02: People are seen running and cycling through Puerta de Alcala on the first day since Spain eased the Covid-19 lockdown measures to allow exercise on May 2, 2020 in Madrid , Spain. Spain continues to ease the Covid-19 lockdown measures this weekend, with high temperatures forecast across the country. Permitted activities now include walking with the family, outdoor exercise such as running and going out with children. (Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)Next SlideFull Screen1/28 SLIDES © Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Even as the world continues to battle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, several countries, where the daily growth of new infections has reduced, are beginning to take tentative steps to ease lockdown measures in order to allow citizens to move freely for the first time in weeks and to revive the economy. Click through to take a look at photos showing how countries are slowly and cautiously trying to return to normalcy.

(Pictured) People are seen running and cycling through Puerta de Alcalá on the first day since Spain eased the COVID-19 lockdown measures to allow people to exercise, in Madrid, Spain, on May 2.

Note: Steps taken by countries to put the lockdown into reverse are subject to change/modifications. The slideshow is updated as of May 2.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told Sky News it had caused “confusion” and “broken” the lockdown consensus in the four UK nations.

The leaders of the devolved administrations have already said they will not use this updated message – telling people to simply “stay at home” instead.

The prime minister’s suggestion that pupils in reception, year 1 and year 6 may be able to return “at the earliest by 1 June” was also criticised.

The teachers’ National Education Union called it “nothing short of reckless” and said a snap poll had shown 85% of its 49,000 members disagreed with the idea.

The new coronavirus slogans unveiled by Boris Johnson

© Other The new coronavirus slogans unveiled by Boris Johnson

It is also “imperative” that businesses get detailed advice on how to keep people safe and the use of PPE if more employees are to return to work, said the British Chambers of Commerce.

During Sunday’s address, the prime minister also said:

  • A “phased reopening” of shops may be able to start in June
  • Some of the hospitality industry and other public places could begin to reopen in July at the earliest
  • “It will soon be the time” to impose quarantine on people coming into the UK by air
  • A five-level Covid Alert System will judge how strict lockdown measures and social distancing rules should be locally
  • People can drive to another destination for exercise, and play sport with people from the same household
  • The UK’s COVID-19 reproduction rate, also known as R, is between 0.5 and 0.9, “but potentially only just below one”
  • The government’s key message is now: “Stay alert, control the virus and save lives”

Mr Johnson said that from Wednesday: “You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.”

However, he warned fines would increase for the “small minority” who break the social distancing rules, rising from £60 to £100.

The changes also allow people to meet one person not in their household when out in parks, said a government official.

In this handout image provided by No 10 Downing Street, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson records a televised message to the nation released on May 10, 2020 in London, England. The Prime Minister announced the next stage in easing lockdown measures intended to curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by No 10 Downing Street via Getty Images)

© Getty In this handout image provided by No 10 Downing Street, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson records a televised message to the nation released on May 10, 2020 in London, England. The Prime Minister announced the next stage in easing lockdown measures intended to curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by No 10 Downing Street via Getty Images)

It gives people the chance to see friends for the first time in almost eight weeks – but the two-metre rule must still be adhered to.

Tennis courts and golf clubs will also be allowed to reopen this week, although – again – people will only be able to play with members of their household.

Mr Johnson said that the impact of the changes would be “closely monitored”, adding: “If there are outbreaks, if there are problems, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes.”

He said: “Throughout this period of the next two months we will be driven not by mere hope or economic necessity.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)

© PA Wire/PA Images Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons, London. (Photo by House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images)

“We are going to be driven by the science, the data and public health.”

Although Britons can return to their workplaces if necessary, the prime minister said safety should be a priority when they are commuting.

“You should avoid public transport if at all possible, because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited,” he added.

“So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.”

New guidance is also being offered to employers so workplaces can become “COVID secure”.

Mr Johnson also thanked the public “for the effort and personal sacrifice they have made to reduce the spread of coronavirus and protect the NHS”.

He reiterated that keeping the infection rate down and beginning a return to a semblance of normality depended on a unified effort.

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Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading – here is what you can and can’t do. If you think you have the virus, don’t go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn’t available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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