Outdoor events may be judged safe but still not allowed to reopen

Festivals, concerts and sports events are unlikely to reopen soon despite the fact that they are judged to be safer than many other activities.

Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, said that there is a lower risk of transmitting Covid-19 outdoors.

But she added there were important reasons why it might still make it unsafe to hold a large outdoor event.

This is because when people go to a football match or gig, their behaviour before and after the event needs to be taken into account as well.

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Dr Harries said that people travelling to an event on public transport or giving each other lifts could lead to further transmission of the virus.

She made the comments during the daily Government press briefing, which revealed that a further 621 people across all care settings in the UK had died from Covid-19.

The overall UK death toll from Covid-19 now stands at 28,131 with a total of 182,260 testing positive overall.

Dr Harries said: "The real question is whether you go to the outdoor event via the pub or whether you leave the pub journey out of it.

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"The virus itself will not survive as long in the outdoors…So, generally, outdoor environments are safer but it depends on how you go to your outdoor environment and what you do.

"If you go as a family unit and sit in one place and you've got the same exposure there that you have in your house at home; that's quite safe environment.

"If you go with a whole load of friends that you haven't seen from before the coronavirus lockdown, sit in a pub in a very small environment, lean over each other on the table and stay there some hours face to face, that's really not a good thing to do.

"I think sometimes people will get confused with the activities they do before the event and then the event itself.

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"The other example is people all piling into cars together…If you pick up all your mates on the way to the outdoor even then that's not a good thing at all."

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick fronted Saturday's press briefing alongside the medical boss.

Mr Jenrick said that determining when outdoor events could resume presented a "more complex picture" due to reliance on public transport and people meeting indoors prior to such events.

Large events like concerts may be delayed for some time

Mr Jenrick said: "The rate of transmission [of coronavirus] is significantly less outdoors than indoors so when it is right to ease lockdown measures that will be a factor that we will take into consideration.

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"But obviously there's an interconnectedness between that and other things like public transport which make this a more complex picture and that's now the type of analysis that's being done across government."

In other news, The Times reported that commuters could be asked to take their temperature before travelling, and those with an elevated reading – a symptom of Covid-19 – would be expected to stay at home.

A senior Government source confirmed the plans are being looked at but stressed they are a "long way" from being policy.

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said his target for 100,000 Covid-19 tests per day had been met, which he hailed as an "incredible achievement".

Speaking on the BBC Today Programme on Saturday morning, Professor John Newton, the national coordinator for coronavirus testing defended the government after journalists pointed out that tens of thousands of tests included in the total had simply been dispatched to people's homes and not processed.

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Professor Newton said: "This is a big number however you count it. All the tests are only counted once and you can count the tests when they go out or when they come back it, so whatever way you do it we still beat the target.

"These are the sort of discussions you get when politicians set targets, but what we're focusing on is delivering what people really need.

"The home delivery kits are essential to support contract tracing. The home kits are very popular and they're what people ask for and they are an extremely important part of the programme.

"We make no apology for counting those and being proud of the fact that we've built up that capacity."