| 8.9°C Dublin

'Stay home' slogan goes as Johnson to ease UK lockdown

Close

Coffee to go: Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes a morning walk in St James’s Park in London yesterday. PHOTO: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Coffee to go: Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes a morning walk in St James’s Park in London yesterday. PHOTO: Stefan Rousseau/PA

PA

Coffee to go: Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes a morning walk in St James’s Park in London yesterday. PHOTO: Stefan Rousseau/PA

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will drop the Government's "stay home" slogan this weekend as he prepares to ease the coronavirus lockdown on Monday.

Mr Johnson will encourage more people to go back to work if they can do so safely, and will tell those using public transport to wear face coverings in crowded spaces.

He will also scrap the once-a-day limit on exercising and tell people they can take "unlimited" exercise either on their own or with members of their household.

However, he will tell garden centres and other "non-essential" retailers that they will have to wait a little longer before they can fully reopen.

Schools, which are teaching only the children of key workers, will also remain closed to other pupils for now, but could begin a phased return at the start of June. Other businesses, such as restaurants, bars and cafés, will not be given any firm date for when they can expect to reopen.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said yesterday that the Government wanted infrastructure and construction work "to begin again, wherever it's safe to do so".

He also said ministers wanted to give the public "the confidence to return to work and to return to public spaces and public transport" without living in fear of coronavirus.

Dropping the advice to stay at home is part of a strategy to change the mindset of a population that remains more fearful of lifting the lockdown than politicians are, though Mr Johnson will stress that people should still work from home wherever possible.

Downing Street said the country would have to get used to "a different type of normal" when the lockdown starts to be eased. The final decision on what restrictions can be lifted will be based on scientific evidence which is still being compiled, but Downing Street indicated Mr Johnson would announce a small number of changes this weekend as part of a "gentle" easing of restrictions.

Mr Johnson confirmed for the first time that he would announce his "road map" for getting out of the lockdown in a televised address on Sunday.

He told MPs: "We want, if we possibly can, to get going with some of these measures on Monday."

Public Health England, the body that advises the Government on health matters, emailed local councils yesterday telling them to drop the "stay home" message from their websites and social media by Saturday evening ahead of a "new phase" which will come with a new slogan.

Downing Street used the hashtag "stay safe, save lives" on its Twitter feed yesterday, with a graphic illustrating the need for people to stay two metres apart, instead of the more familiar "stay home, save lives" message.

Sources suggested this would not be the final slogan, but the prime minister's spokesman confirmed that social distancing would be at the heart of Mr Johnson's message on Sunday.

For the first time since the lockdown was imposed more than six weeks ago, Mr Johnson will change the rules on when it is appropriate to leave home.

Instead of being allowed to exercise just once a day, "unlimited" exercise will be allowed, though team sports and group running or cycling events will still be banned.

The remaining three reasons for going out - shopping for necessities, medical needs and travelling for work for those who cannot work from home - are expected to remain unchanged.

Mr Johnson, who looked drained during his first appearance at Prime Minister's Questions since recovering from coronavirus, said he would be addressing the nation on Sunday so "people have an idea of what is coming the following day".

The drive to get more people back to work, which would ease pressure on government bailouts, is likely to apply only to businesses that are already allowed to operate under current rules.

Many of them have opted to close because of fears around safety, but ministers have been working with industry to find ways of making workplaces safe, and believe new advice on the use of face coverings on public transport will persuade more firms to reopen. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent