By Rachael Grealish
Today in a pre-recorded message to the country, Prime Minister Boris Johnston has announced modifications of COVID-19 lockdown measures set to start this coming week.
These modifications to the measures are set in three stages the first coming into effect on Wednesday May 13 2020.
For people in England you are still encouraged to stay at home where you can but those who work in construction and manufacturing are ‘urged’ to go to work where it is safe.
My Johnson said: “”We now need to stress that 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.”
From Wednesday people are able to take more ‘unlimited’ outdoor exercise – but still in family groups as the PM said: “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, failure to stick to these changed measures will mean stricter fines and MR Johnson said: “If there are problems, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes..”
The PM has called these the ‘first careful steps’ in moving forward after COVID-19 as now is ‘not the time to end lockdown’.
In his speech he said: “Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures. And the first step is a change of emphasis that we hope that people will act on this week. We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must.
“So 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 have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure.”
This road map is the first steps the government has taken to get the economy moving again – yet still all dependent on the R, which ‘everyone has a role to play in lowering’ the PM added.
Further steps will be in effect from June 1, the PM outlined further in his speech saying: “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 1 and Year 6.
“Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays. And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport.
“And step three – at the earliest by July – and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice; if and only if the numbers support it, we will hope to re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing.
“Throughout this period of the next two months we will be driven not by mere hope or economic necessity. We are going to be driven by the science, the data and public health.”
Mr Johnson went on to praise key workers at this time, as well as the public to get through ‘phase one’.
“But in the end this is a plan that everyone must make work. And when I look at what you have done already. The patience and common sense you have shown. The fortitude of the elderly whose isolation we all want to end as fast as we can.
“The incredible bravery and hard work of our NHS staff, our care workers. The devotion and self-sacrifice of all those in every walk of life who are helping us to beat this disease.
“Police, bus drivers, train drivers, pharmacists, supermarket workers, road hauliers, bin collectors, cleaners, security guards, postal workers, our teachers and a thousand more. The scientists who are working round the clock to find a vaccine.
“When I think of the millions of everyday acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that are being performed across this country. And that have helped to get us through this first phase.”
The PM left the country with the message mirroring his new slogan in an attempt to seemingly raise morale.
“We will come back from this devilish illness,” he continued, “We will come back to health, and robust health. And though the UK will be changed by this experience, I believe we can be stronger and better than ever before. More resilient, more innovative, more economically dynamic, but also more generous and more sharing. But for now we must stay alert, control the virus and save lives.”
Speculation throughout the day grew as a new slogan was released from Number 10 asking the country to Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives.
In Northern Ireland lockdown was extended with no changes.
The Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford announced on Friday, May 7, that Garden Centres would be reopening if they can comply with physical distancing and that people can exercise more than once a day but within the previous advice.
Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has also relaxed rules around exercise allowing people to go out more than one form of exercise.
The total UK deaths due to COVID-19 increased by 269 to 31,856 today the lowest increase since March however the total is second highest in the world behind the USA (69,899 9th May)