- Boris Johnson has revealed new social distancing guidelines for England.
- The new rules will allow individuals in England to meet outdoors but not in their own gardens.
- Exercise restrictions will be lifted across the UK, with tighter rules applying in Scotland and Wales.
- Here’s what you can and cannot do under the new coronavirus guidelines.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Boris Johnson on Sunday evening revealed his road map for phasing out the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.
In a televised address to the nation, the prime minister said there would be a gradual loosening of restrictions starting from this week, with a newly-established Joint Biosecurity Centre assessing when each phase can be safely completed.
Under the plans, as of Wednesday people in England will be given new freedoms to exercise, relax, and meet others outdoors. Less liberal rules will apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Here’s what you will and won’t be able to do under the new lockdown guidelines.
Can I see family and friends from different households?
As of Wednesday, any individual in England will be able to meet up with one other person from a different household — as long as it’s in a park or outdoor space, and both individuals maintain a distance from each other of at least two metres.
Curiously, Johnson didn’t include this particular relaxation of the rules in his TV address on Sunday.
However, a government source confirmed the change shortly before the address.
They said: “The logical consequence of what we’re doing in terms of adding unlimited exercise is that you could sit next to a single friend in the park but you’d have to be two metres apart — just one single person.”
This means people in England will be able to meet with relatives and friends, as long as it’s one-by-one.
There was confusion on Monday morning when First Secretary of State Dominic Raab claimed that an individual could meet with more than one person from a different household at a time under the new rules.
However, a UK government spokesman later confirmed that this was not the case.
The rules will not apply to meeting in gardens, which is still not allowed.
The changes to the guidelines do not apply in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, where previous restrictions still apply.
Can I exercise as much as I want and play sports?
Johnson on Sunday said that people in England would be able to exercise as much as they want under the updated rules.
Previously, people were advised to do just one piece of exercise outdoors per day — though this was never put into law.
From this week, they will be able to play certain sports as much as they like — as long as it is only with members of their household.
These include non-contact sports such as tennis and golf, with courts and courses across the country set to re-open this week. People will also be allowed to do angling and water sports, and swim in lakes and the sea.
Gyms and swimming pools are set to be off-limits for the foreseeable future, however.
Exercise restrictions have also been loosened in Scotland and Wales where people will be able to exercise more than once a day. However, golf courses and other sporting venues are not currently due to re-open.
Can I travel long distances to exercise and meet relatives?
People will as of this week be able to drive to elsewhere in England to exercise and partake in leisure activity outdoors.
Johnson in his TV address said “you can drive to other destinations.”
The new guidelines have caused criticism from some quarters with the chief executive of the Lake District national park on Sunday urging people not to flood the area and put it at risk of a new wave of infections.
—Richard Leafe (@LakesChief) May 10, 2020
These new rules will not apply in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, where exercise and travel must remain within the local area.
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Johnson on Sunday night announced a “change of emphasis” regarding whether people should go to work.
He said: “We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.
“And we want it to be safe for you to get to work.
“So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.
“So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.”
Essentially, the prime minister said that if you’re someone who cannot work from home — like a construction or manufacturing worker — then you are encouraged to go to your place of work.
The change in messaging will not apply in Scotland, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisting that the advice to businesses in Scotland has not changed.
“I am not, at this stage, asking anybody who is not working to go back to work, although we have said we are looking, with priority, at the construction sector, the retail sector and the manufacturing sector,” she told BBC Scotland.
Johnson’s announcement prompted concerned reaction from opposition politicians and business bosses, who warned that many workplaces were not safe for people to return to at such short notice.
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said: “The Prime Minister appears to be effectively telling millions of people to go back to work without a clear plan for safety or clear guidance as to how to get there without using public transport.
“What the country wanted tonight was clarity and consensus, but we haven’t got either of those.”
The UK government is expected to publish new social distancing guidelines for workplaces on Wednesday.
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