COVID 19 UPDATE

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Live Coronavirus latest news: LOCKDOWN

Boris Johnson has said it is “not the time to end the lockdown” but that schools and shops could open from June as he outlined his “road map” to a new normalityin an address to the nation.

In a pre-recorded message, the Prime Minister said the plans– including schools returning in stages, starting with reception, Year 1 and Year 6 – depended on a “big series of ifs”, including the country continuing to follow social distancing guidelines.

But Mr Johnson said workers unable to do their jobs from home – such as those in construction and manufacturing – are now “actively encouraged to go to work”, while people will also be allowed to exercise more than once a day and even sunbathe. 

His address has prompted criticism, including from the leaders of the other UK nations, who have refused to adopt the new “stay alert” sloganand instead said they would encourage people to follow “stay home” advice. 

Read our live updates below…

Live Updates

That’s all for tonight’s rolling coronavirus coverage. Check back in tomorrow morning for all the latest updates.

This just in from the US:

Vice President Mike Pence is self-isolating after an aide tested positive for coronavirus last week.

An administration official said Mr Pence is voluntarily limiting his exposure and will work from home.

He has repeatedly tested negative for Covid-19 but is following the advice of medical officials.

Mr Pence’s move comes after three members of the White House’s coronavirus task force placed themselves in quarantine after coming into contact with the aide, Mr Pence’s spokeswoman Katie Miller said.

He was informed of the positive test on Friday morning before he left Washington for a day-trip to Iowa.

Here’s everything you need to know from tonight’s televised address, including key points and reaction to Boris Johnson’s new “road map”:

Calls for clarity after PM ‘sketches out’ lockdown roadmap for England

Labour is calling on the Government to publish guidance for employers to make workplaces safe for staff.

In a letter to Business Secretary Alok Sharma, shadow business secretary Ed Miliband and shadow employment rights minister Andy McDonald said they were “deeply concerned” about the recommendation that staff unable to work from home should go back to work.

They said:

“Every worker deserves to work without fear. Without clear rules in place for workplaces, this cannot happen.

“Ordering a return to work in manufacturing and construction with 12 hours’ notice and no official guidance on how workers can keep safe is irresponsible and wrong.

“The Prime Minister said tonight he wanted workers to avoid public transport and use cars, bicycles or walk to work but did not explain how.

“What if none of those are viable options?”

News that will make a lot of people happy:

Friends and family to be given green light to meet up in parks

Friends, family members and couples who have been separated for almost eight weeks will be able to meet up in parks under England’s new lockdown rules.Read more…Sadiq Khan has shared a video message to Londoners reminding them “we have not defeated this virus yet.”The mayor tweeted:

The PM’s announcement that travel restrictions will be eased to allow car journeys for exercise has sparked fears in vulnerable parts of the UK:

Lake District fears virus surge after PM loosens outdoor rules

Residents of the Lake District have been left fearing an influx of visitors after Boris Johnson gave Britons the go ahead to drive to beauty spots for exercise.Addressing the nation in a pre-recorded message on Sunday evening, the Prime Minister sketched out his “road map” for easing the UK lockdown.Read more…

Nurse chief issues urgent reminder that ‘pandemic is far from over’

Dame Donna Kinnair, Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary, said:

Nursing staff across the UK are imploring the public to remember that this pandemic is far from over.

“Please think about our health and care workers, working under tremendous pressure, and respect the guidance being given.

“The Prime Minister has said it is important to ensure nurses and key workers have the protective equipment and testing they need. This has to be a priority. Until our members report they are getting all they need, it is hard to see how the lockdown could be relaxed further.”

Scientific experts have condemned Boris Johnson’s “confusing” message and called for clarity to prevent people lowering their guard and risking a second peak of Covid-19.

Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor in the school of medicine at the University of Leeds, said he was “deeply concerned by the confusing message from the Government”.

He added:

It feels as though the ethos that advice from the scientific community should guide policy has been abandoned.

“We have achieved a plateau in new cases, not a significant drop, which means that the previously established pillars have not been met.

“It is also troubling that the new message and tag lines are inconsistent with the rest of the UK when we know England has the vast majority of cases.

“One danger in announcing future intentions without a clear framework is that it promotes a message that the situation is now less serious.

“This is bound to affect the subconscious and could lead to people dropping their guard.

“We have seen multiple examples of the virus bouncing back in other countries where restrictions are relaxed, despite the disease being far less prevalent than here.

“We cannot and should not attempt to second guess this pandemic.

“It is essential that we obtain a clear understanding of community spread via efficient and widespread testing before any of the measures announced this evening stand a chance of success.”

Trish Greenhalgh, professor of primary care health sciences at the University of Oxford, said:

It looks like the PM is trying to implement the ‘have cake and eat it’ maxim he popularised in a previous life.

“On the one hand, he says he’s not lifting the lockdown because he is determined to avoid a second peak.

“On the other hand, he appears very keen to lift the lockdown because he urgently needs to fix the economy.

“Anyone unable to work from home should now return to work from work (though they are also advised to avoid public transport, so it’s not clear how they will get there).

“I can’t see what the ‘guidance for employers’ is going to say, but employers won’t be able to generate two metres of distance between employees out of thin air.

“The Government has yet to take a positive stance on face coverings, which (in addition to continuing hand-washing) is probably the one public health measure that could enable us to ease out of lockdown more safely.

“Leaving aside who we’re allowed to play tennis with from Wednesday, this announcement seems to be pitching at a middle ground that could give us the worst of both worlds.”

Deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said nobody wanted to see restrictions in place for any longer than necessary. 

She said:

“They’ve helped to protect the NHS and save lives, but they’ve also caused sacrifice and hardship.

“So we need a balanced approach, led by the science and clearly communicated so people know what they need to do.

“That means easing restrictions when it’s safe to do so.

“But we must not let down our guard.

“For health and care services this will require regular, reliable and easily accessible testing for all staff and patients, backed up by an effective programme of contact tracing, to contain any potential second surge in cases.

“Unfortunately – despite increasing testing capacity – we don’t see that detailed and developed approach in place at the moment. We need it now.”

Here’s how education leaders have reacted to Boris Johnson’s suggestion schools could start reopening in June:

PM slammed for ‘reckless’ aim to start reopening schools in June

Children in England could start returning to school from June 1, Boris Johnson revealed, as he set out the UK’s “first careful steps” out of lockdown.The Prime Minister suggested the phased reopening of schools could begin at the start of next month, beginning with some of the youngest pupils in reception classes, year one and year six.Read more…Here’s a summary of the key points from tonight’s message from No10:

  • A new Covid Alert System is being set up determined mainly by the reinfection rate and the number of cases.
  • The alert levels will be one to five and the higher the level, the tougher social distancing measures will have to be. The PM said the UK had been in Level Four but “we are now in a position to begin to move in steps to Level Three”.
  • From Monday, people who cannot work from home are being actively encouraged to go to work instead of being told to only go if they must. But they should avoid public transport if at all possible.
  • From Wednesday, people are being encouraged to take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise and even play sports, but only with members of their household.
  • Visiting and sunbathing in local parks will also be allowed as will driving to other destinations.
  • But social distancing rules will still have to be obeyed with bigger fines for those who break them.
  • Schools may begin to reopen by June 1 at the earliest along with the phased reopening of shops.
  • And at least some pubs, restaurants, hotels and other public places could begin to reopen in July at the earliest “if and only if the numbers support it”.

Nigel Farage offers his take on tonight’s speech:

The Brexit Party leader tweeted:

I think the big change from this much vaunted Presidential-style address is that I can sunbathe. Was that really it?

“Never in the field of human statesmanship was so much said to such little effect.”

More reaction from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer:

Sir Keir said the Government’s latest strategy is not based on political consensus.

Speaking to Sky News, the new leader of the opposition said:

What I really wanted, I pushed them on this last week, I said ‘build a consensus around the plan before you deliver the plan’ that’s been delivered this evening.

“Because I think the public are very scared and anxious about what comes next. They want reassurance.

“And if they can see political parties, employers, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland all broadly on the same page – that helps with reassurance and confidence.

“But I’m afraid we’ve arrived tonight without that.

“Now, you know, that’s a duty them, on all of us, to see whether we can provide that going forward. But that basic consensus that I was arguing for, I don’t think is there tonight.”

Sir Keir Starmer also told Sky News that the Labour Party had pushed the Government to “speed up” its response to the pandemic.

He added:

We pushed the Government on lockdown, we pushed them on testing, we pushed them on PPE.

“Now we pushed and challenged with the purpose, which was to try to get them to speed up.

“And I said that under my leadership we’re not out to score party political points.

“So it was to get them to speed up and to ramp up.”

Here’s the Prime Minister’s message to the nation, word-for-word:

We will come back from this devilish illness’: PM’s message in full

Two MPs, who have worked as healthcare workers during the pandemic, have expressed concerns about the loosening of the lockdown.

Nadia Whittome, who claimed she was sacked as a temporary carer for speaking out against PPE shortages, tweeted:

Boris Johnson has just encouraged millions of people to go back to work, without agreement from unions or guidance on how workers will be kept safe.

“This will risk lives. We simply do not have the PPE and testing in place to substantially loosen lockdown.”

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, a Labour MP and A&E doctor, said she was “alarmed” by Mr Johnson’s speech this evening.

She wrote on Twitter:

What we saw over the weekend worries me no-end. The future for our country is increased infections and more avoidable death.

“The Government are forcing people back to work if they can’t work from home, but they ‘should’ avoid public transport. This will put some of the lowest-paid workers at the mercy of bosses!”

“What we just saw was a PR exercise, not leadership.”

More on plans to enforce a 14-day quarantine for travellers:

It will be some weeks before travellers arriving in the UK will face being quarantined, officials said.

The 14-day quarantine period will only come into effect once the domestic rate of coronavirus transmission is low and people are arriving from countries with a higher rate of infection.

Whitehall sources said the plans were still being worked on and will be based on the scientific and medical advice.

Although the Prime Minister suggested quarantine measures being imposed on “people coming into this country by air”, officials said that was just to give an example and it was possible that other forms of travel would be included.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has urged the public to continue respecting social distancing measures

He said:

I want to be as clear as possible: social distancing measures are still in place. Lockdown hasn’t been lifted and we all still need to play our part in stopping the spread of Covid-19.

“You must still stay at home as much as possible and keep a safe two-metre distance from other people at all times when you are out. Everyone must continue to work from home if they possibly can.

“You must not use public transport for any unnecessary journeys. If you really have to travel, please avoid rush hour.

“We still have a long way to go to defeat this virus and we have not returned to life as it was before.

“The Government has set out a gradual approach to bring the UK out of the current lockdown, carefully monitoring the impact at each stage. This is essential for avoiding a disastrous second peak that could overwhelm our NHS.”

What about fines for lockdown breaches? 

Fines for breaching coronavirus regulations will rise from £60 to £100 under the plans set out by Boris Johnson.

Payment of the fine within 14 days will reduce the sum to £50, up from the present £30.

Repeat offenders will see the fine double for each subsequent breach to a maximum of £3,200.

It is unclear whether this applies to England and Wales or England only.

Most secondary school pupils will not attend classes before September at the earliest.

Under plans set out by the Prime Minister, June 1 has been earmarked as the earliest possible date for the return of pupils in nurseries plus reception classes, year one and year six.

Remaining primary school year groups could be added at later dates.

But the only secondary school pupils likely to attend school in any form before September are pupils in years 10 and 12, who will be able to have some face-to-face time with teachers to support their home learning.

Government officials said the remaining secondary school age pupils in England would not be expected to return to school before the summer holidays.Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hits out at PM’s message

Sir Keir said the Mr Johnson “appears to be effectively telling millions of people to go back to work tomorrow” without the necessary guidance.

The Labour leader said in an interview:

“But we haven’t got the guidelines, and we don’t know how it’s going to work with public transport so there’s a huge number of questions arising out of this”

Sir Keir also criticised Mr Johnson’s new “stay alert” slogan as lacking clarity.

“’Stay alert’ isn’t clear, most people have been saying what does that mean?

So, there’s a very, you know, basic issue here about communications.”

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