Coronavirus lockdown exit plan from schools reopening to pubs

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Liverpool and the surrounding areas remain in lockdown as every day the coronavirus death toll increases.

But despite the ongoing tragedy, Boris Johnson told a press briefing he will announce a "comprehensive plan" for how to exit from the current draconian social restrictions, reports Mirror Online.

The Prime Minister claimed that the UK was "past the peak" and said he wanted to "get the economy moving" but warned of the dangers of a second wave if measures are relaxed too soon.

The plan will affect everything from Liverpool's businesses to families trying to educate their kids at home.

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So what will reopen, what will stay shut – and how will your everyday life be affected? These are some of the changes that we may see:

The 'roadmap' explained

The words Hope in a painted rainbow at Strawberry Field gates, Liverpool.

The important thing to know is just because we're getting a 'roadmap' this week, it doesn't mean lockdown will end this week.

The legal date to review the lockdown is Thursday 7 May, and Boris Johnson is expected to extend it for another three weeks, possibly with a few minor changes.

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But the PM will also – separately – announce a "roadmap" for easing the UK out of lockdown. This is expected later in the week, possibly only on Sunday 10 May.

His plan will make clear that the UK is not returning to "business as usual". Some restrictions will be eased, but others – like fines for breaches – will be made harsher than they are now.

While people are put back on public transport and in some workplaces, there will be strict social distancing to keep people two metres apart.

People are likely to be advised to cover their faces, and will be told to use an NHS phone app that alerts you if you've come into close contact with the virus.

When will it all happen?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street

There's lots of speculation, but no firm date on when lockdown will start to be relaxed. As for when the current rules end completely, that may only be in 2021.

What we do know is the roadmap will begin once the 'R' number – the average number of people infected by each Covid-19 carrier – is low enough.

Currently R is about 0.7 because so many people are out of contact with each other. Every time you relax a lockdown rule, R rises again. Ministers say they won't do anything that pushes the R number back above 1.

The UK must also pass five tests before easing lockdown:

  • The NHS is able to cope

  • A sustained fall in deaths

  • New infections dropping enough

  • Adequate testing and PPE

  • No risk of a second peak that overwhelms NHS

But Cabinet minister Michael Gove warned: "Ultimately, unless and until we have a vaccine, then I suspect we’re going to have to live with some degree of constraint because of the nature of the virus.

"But we obviously want to, wherever possible, and consistent with our measures on public health, restore people’s lives to as close to normal as possible."

Arriving in the UK

Liverpool John Lennon airport during lockdown

Ministers are "actively looking at" quarantining people who arrive into the UK once lockdown begins to ease.

Nothing is confirmed, but reports have suggested people will be asked to isolate themselves for two weeks.

If so, this would be a major blow to the airline industry and render most holidays to Britain pointless.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC: "I think it’s important… that we ensure the sacrifices in the sense of social distancing that we’re asking the British people to make are matched by anybody who comes to this country.

"So I am actively looking at these issues right now.

"So that when we have infection rates within the country under control, we're not importing."


Posters of support for the NHS and key workers outside Park Primary School

Schools will reopen in a "phased" way, the government has confirmed – with some pupils going back first while others are told to remain at home.

Ministers are looking at the idea of sending different year groups back at different times.

Boris Johnson has signalled he wants primary schools to be the first to return, while Wales' First Minister has suggested Year 6 could be the very first year group back.

Years 10 and 12 would then be the first back in secondary schools, according to one plan seen by the Sunday Telegraph.

Priority could also be put on pupils with special educational needs.

The Prime Minister must give schools notice in the next week if he wants pupils to return from June 1 – the first date head teachers have said could be acceptable.

Schools say they will need time to put social distancing measures in place to ensure pupils are kept apart.

Sources stress there is no final date and June may be put back if the virus is still too widespread.


Students relaxing in the sunshine in Abercromby Square Gardens before the lockdown

The Sunday Times said at universities, arts students will be the last to return, with students of medicine, dentistry and veterinary science prioritised in the autumn.

Thirty-three universities are working on a contingency plan to fast-track students of the key sciences back to campus.

Public transport

Merseyrail has been running reduced services

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the number of trains will slowly rise as lockdown eases, to avoid overcrowding.

Hand sanitiser and one-way systems would be placed on the network, with spacing at platforms and bus stops “clearly marked out” to keep people two metres apart.

New timetables will be introduced as planned in May, even though trains will not run to them straight away.

Firms would be urged to stagger workers' start times to spread out the rush out.

Meanwhile the government has hinted at more support for Cycle to Work, a tax break scheme where you can buy a bicycle over a year through your employer.

Workplaces and working from home

Many people could continue to be asked to work from home

Workplaces would have floor markings to ensure people are two metres apart, according leaked draft guidance.

The guidance could also recommend staggered arrival times and breaks, fewer people in lifts and regular deep cleaning, according to Sky News and the Sunday Express.

However, it seems likely that not all workers would go back to the office if they don't need to.

Government advisers have previously said working from home could become the new normal until there's a vaccine for coronavirus.


Social distancing markers on the floor of Tesco

Supermarkets would doubtless keep many of the social distancing measures they've already put in place.

And opening hours could be increased on Sunday to reduce overcrowding.

Picnics and going outdoors

People have been strongly warned not to sunbathe in parks during the epidemic

People will be allowed to exercise more than once a day, drive to the countryside and have picnics, according to the Mail on Sunday.

You'd still have to be with members of your own household only, and keep two metres away from other groups.

No10 did not comment on the Mail's report. But ministers and scientists have repeatedly said outdoor gatherings look to be less risky than those indoors.

Building sites

Building sites were never told to close

Building sites were never told to close under lockdown guidance – as long as two metres could be kept between workers. So the government is expected to make a renewed push for people to return to work there.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said because the transmission rate of the virus outdoors is lower than indoors, there’s “more scope” for some jobs outside.

He added: “There's more scope for people returning to work on building sites for example, or more outdoor leisure activities than is likely to be the case for indoor ones.”

'Bubbles' of up to 10 people

People would be asked to stay in a 'bubble' of close friends and family

People could meet small "bubbles" of their friends and family under one idea to ease the coronavirus lockdown.

Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government was looking at the proposal as one possible way to relax restrictions on people's movement in the future.

But she warned if the idea does happen, "it's got to be the same people day-to-day, week-to-week" to prevent Covid-19 being passed on more widely.

That means people would have to choose one "bubble" of friends or family – and stick with them, while continuing not to meet other people they love.

Reports later said the idea was one being mulled by the UK government. But it's not set in stone.

Fines for breaching lockdown

A police car patrols Sefton Park, Liverpool

The government is considering raising the penalty for defying lockdown from £60 to £100 for a first offence.

The fines would then double for each offence after that, just as they do already.

And the maximum fine would rise from just under £1,000 at the moment to £3,200.

A senior government source did not deny these figures, reported by the Sunday Telegraph, were under consideration.

Covering your face

Masks could be actively encouraged if not mandatory

The government hasn't made a final decision on whether to ask people to cover their face in public.

However, some kind of face covering advice is widely expected after Boris Johnson covering one's face in some situations would be a "useful" tool.

It's understood that if face coverings are required, they won't be masks.

The government doesn't want to cause a shortage in personal protective equipment that should be available to the NHS.

But coverings like a scarf could be recommended.

And the government would provide guidance on what kind of material you can make such a covering from.

It's important that people don't end up fiddling with their face covering in a way that means they're actually creating more risk, by continually touching their face.

Using a new app

The app is already being tested

A new contact tracing app is expected to launch in around mid-May after trials on the Isle of Wight this week.

The app, which is voluntary, will use Bluetooth to track when people have come into close contact with someone who, now or later, tests positive for coronavirus.

It will urge someone who’s been in contact with a virus carrier to get tested and to isolate themselves if necessary.

It is part of the crucial “test, track and trace” strategy that is needed before the UK-wide lockdown can be relaxed.

The idea is that this would allow society to partially reopen while keeping the virus at bay and sick people in isolation. For it to work properly, at least 60% or so of the population need to download it.

It will be paired with an army of 18,000 human contact tracers to follow up on those who need further attention, or those who don’t download the app.

Pubs, grassroots sport, mass gatherings and other venues

An abandoned Concert Square

Pubs will be the last places to reopen as lockdown is eased, the Government has confirmed.

Likewise, ministers have indicated that mass gatherings will be among the last things to reopen.

But some local cricket and grassroots football could return – as long as spectators can stay in the open air.

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Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries said: “Outdoor environments are safer. But if you go with a load of friends and sit in a pub… that’s not a good thing to do.”

And Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told the No10 coronavirus update: “Transmission is significantly less outdoors than indoors.”

A 'one UK' approach

Scotland and Wales have repeatedly set out plans ahead of, or slightly differently to, the rest of the UK government.

And it's true that the Scottish and Welsh governments have control over areas like schools and care homes.

However, ministers have also stressed they want to keep the whole of the UK moving in the same way at the same time.

And the government has distanced itself from claims that worst-hit regions, like London and the West Midlands, could have different rules to the countryside.

NHS services

It's not clear when other NHS services will go back to normal

Some routine operations and fertility treatment have already been restored as hospital inpatients fall for several weeks in a row.

However, it's not yet clear when other services – including ENT therapies and dentistry, where staff are particularly at risk of transmission – will continue.

Older people

Over 70s are not actually banned from leaving home – contrary to popular belief

Over-70s are not currently banned from leaving their home for essential shopping or exercise – unless they’ve been individually told so by the NHS.

Currently the only difference is that over-70s are told to be "particularly stringent" in following the lockdown.

But campaigners fear that when lockdown is relaxed, older people might be kept under the rules for longer than younger people, for their own safety.

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That proposal has been rumoured but is not in any way confirmed by government – and Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, insists there's no "blanket ban".

But there are fears among doctors' leaders and campaigners. Former pensions minister Ros Altmann told Sky: "I think using an age-based criteria is fundamentally wrong and would potentially cost the lives of many people, and risk social unrest."