Ministers are preparing to ease restrictions on outdoor activities as the first stage in the country’s lockdown exit strategy. The changes are expected to be approved if COVID-19 infection rates keep falling but social distancing rules under which people must stay at least two metres apart will remain in place.
The move, which will see solitary sunbathers allowed to relax in parks and people to exercise more than once daily, follows new scientific advice to ministers that the risk of transmitting the disease outside is substantially lower than indoors.
But playgrounds and beaches where crowds congregate and the two-metre rule becomes harder to observe will still be off-limits.
Boris Johnson’s review of the lockdown on Thursday is not expected to lead to any more substantial changes until next month.
Boris Johnson is expected to announces lockdown exit plans next week
Public transport is likely to return to normal levels in June alongside the reopening of and non-food retailers, factories, warehouses and more construction sites.
Offices workers will probably still be working from home beyond next month, while pubs and restaurants are likely to remain closed for weeks longer.
The UK’s official coronavirus now stands at 28,131 after the figure increased by 621 as of yesterday.
Ministers have warned there will need to be a significant fall in the. number of daily deaths before lockdown can be eased.
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Lononers enjoy a sunny day at Clapham Common
9.29am update: Labour welcomes increased coronavirus testing
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said that testing and tracing will be “so important” in easing the lockdown in the weeks and months ahead.
Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge programme, he said: “We’ve been asking for the ramping up of testing so clearly I’m pleased that testing has been ramped up.
“I think there’s always been a difference between the number of tests actually carried out and the overall statistics, indeed the number of people tested is a different figure.
“But of course I’m pleased that testing has been ramped up. But that in itself is not a strategy.
“Firstly, the testing has to be increased further, I mean the original target we were talking about a quarter of a million tests a day some time ago, but it has to be linked to tracing as well and it’s that testing and tracing that is going to be so important now in terms of easing the measures of the lockdown in the weeks and months ahead.”
9.10am update: Minister warns no early return to business as usual
Britain will not return to “business as usual” this month after Boris Johnson sets out his roadmap for how the UK may come out of the coronavirus lockdown, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.
He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I don’t think we should expect us to go from this situation that we have at the moment of social distancing back to where we were in February – that’s clearly not going to happen and I don’t think anyone imagines that for one moment.
“The most important thing is that the absolute focus of what the Prime Minister will be announcing later in the week is that what we do do going forward doesn’t undo the brilliant work people have been doing to get that R number below 1 – the all-critical reproduction rate doesn’t come back up because that’s when we’d see a second spike.
“So no I’m afraid it is definitely not going to be business as usual but we do want to make sure that people understand where the routemap lies.”
8.46am update: Russia coronavirus death toll rises to 1,280
Russia has recorded its highest daily rise in confirmed coronavirus cases with 10,633 new cases, bringing the overall number of cases to 134,686.
Official figures show the mortality rate has slowed in recent days however, and remains much lower, in relative terms, than many other countries.
The nationwide death toll rose to 1,280 after 58 people died in the last 24 hours, according to Russia’s coronavirus crisis response centre.
8.29am update: Half of doctors ‘source own ppe’
Almost half of doctors have sourced their own personal protective equipment or relied on a donation when none was available through normal NHS channels, according to a survey.
The British Medical Association said, while PPE supplies have improved, their data from more than 16,000 doctors shows there is room for improvement in protecting healthcare workers on the frontline.
Overall, 48 percent of doctors reported having bought PPE directly for themselves or their department, or had a donation from a charity or local firm.
The problem appeared to be higher among GPs, with 55 percent of them saying they had to do so, compared to 38 percent of hospital doctors.
8.03am update: New global coronavirus figures published
More than 3.44 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 243,015 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.
7.30am update: South Korea to ease lockdown restrictions
South Korea will further relax social distancing rules from Wednesday when the phased reopening of businesses gets underway.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said: “The government will allow businesses to resume at facilities in phases that had remained closed up until now, and also allow gatherings and events to take place assuming they follow disinfection guidelines.”
South Korea largely managed to bring the coronavirus outbreak under control with its strict lockdown and social distancing measures.