Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday the United Kingdom’s coronavirus lockdown would be in place until at least June 1, as he unveiled cautious plans to lift restrictions imposed seven weeks ago.
“This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week,” Johnson said in a televised address. “Instead, we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.”
From Monday, those who cannot work from home will be actively encouraged to go to work, he said, and from Wednesday people will be allowed to take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.
“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,” he said.
Until now, people have been expected to exercise outdoors once a day, do so locally, and – despite recent spells of warm weather – told not to go to parks to sit in the sun.
Social distancing rules must still be obeyed, Johnson said, adding that fines would be increased for those who break them.
Johnson said that at the earliest by June 1, the UK might be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with the youngest and oldest year groups.
An official said the government would want to see the other years going back to school before the summer holidays.
“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,” Johnson said.
Other year classes in secondary schools are not expected to return to school before the summer holidays.