Groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday 1 June, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.
The Prime Minister announced the change on Thursday 28th May confirming that the government’s five tests are being met, meaning we can now move forward to the next phase of adjusting the lockdown.
In line with the Prime Minister’s announcements earlier this week, a series of measures will be put in place in England from Monday 1 June in three core areas – schools, retail, and social contact.
Primary schools will welcome back children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on 1 June, and nurseries and other early years settings will be reopened. On 15 June, secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for Year 10 and 12 and the equivalent groups in further education. This will help students prepare for exams next year, and the Government expect there to be around a quarter of these secondary students in at any point.
The Prime Minister has also acknowledged that some schools may not be able to reopen immediately and has committed the Government to continuing to work with the sector to ensure any schools experiencing difficulties are able to open as soon as possible.
As previously announced, outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, provided they meet COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers, while all other non-essential retail will open from 15 June, as long as the government’s five tests are still being met and COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed.
From 1 June up to six people from different households will be allowed to meet outside, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces.
The Government said that evidence shows that the risk of transmission is significantly lower outdoors and this step will mean that people can see more of their friends, family and loved ones.
However, the Government has emphasised that it is critical that those from different households continue to stay 2 metres apart. And it remains the case that people should not spend time inside the homes of their friends and families, other than to access the garden or use the toilet.
Government advice is that people should try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession - to avoid the risk of quick transmission between lots of different families and continue to control the virus. Those who are shielding should continue to do so, although in recognition of the toll this is taking on groups that have been asked to shield, the Government hopes to say more soon on what further support can be provided.
Speaking at the Downing Street press conference on Thursday, the Prime Minister said –
“Thanks to the caution we have shown so far, all five tests are being met. That is not my achievement or the government’s achievement - it is your achievement, only possible thanks to your resolve and dedication to our national purpose to overcome this virus.
“So the result is we can move forward with adjusting the lockdown in England on Monday.
“I want to reaffirm that fundamental commitment to the British people that all the steps we have taken, and will take, are conditional.
“They are conditional on all the data, and all the scientific advice, and it is that scientific advice which will help us to judge what we are doing is safe.
“And as before, we will see how these new changes are working, and look at the R value and the number of new infections before taking any further steps, so we can ensure anything we do does not risk a second peak that could overwhelm the NHS.”
The new NHS Test and Trace programme is intended to ensure continued progress in easing the lockdown while continuing to keep the virus under control.
The government has said it will closely monitor the impact of the changes set out and continue to follow the scientific advice to ensure the five tests continue to be met before we take any further steps.
The police will continue to take the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging individuals to follow the law. Where people do not follow the rules, the police will have the power to enforce these requirements as a last resort. Although reports suggest that National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) have told ministers that most lockdown issues are now a “personal and moral responsibility” rather than a policing issue.