Groups of six can now meet in gardens in lifting of lockdown measures

Groups of six people will soon be able to meet in private gardens as the Prime Minister eased the country's lockdown measures.

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 5:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th May 2020, 5:44 pm

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson said: "From Monday we will allow up to six people to meet outside - provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart."

He said the move to allow two people to meet in parks was a "cautious first step" but that after discussions with the Government's scientific advisers "we know that there is no difference in the health risk, so we will now allow people to meet in gardens and other private outdoor spaces".

He said: "These changes mean friends and family can start to meet their loved ones - perhaps seeing both parents at once, or both grandparents at once. I know that for many this will be a long-awaited and joyful moment.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: PA

"But I must stress that to control the virus, everyone needs to stay alert, act responsibly, strictly observe social distancing rules, and stay two metres apart from those who you do not live with.

"Minimising contact with others is still the best way to prevent transmission. You should also try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession - so that we can avoid the risk of quick transmission from lots of different families and continue to control the virus."

He said people should still not go into others houses, and that those who have been asked to shield should continue to do so.

Mr Johnson set out at the daily briefing how his five tests for easing the lockdown had been met.

He said the “heroic efforts” of NHS workers and the public mean that the first test of protecting the NHS’s ability to cope has been met, with 475 admissions in Covid-19 in England on May 26.

A “sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate” has been witnessed, meaning the second test has been met, he said.

The Government is satisfied the third test has been met because the rate of infection is “decreasing to manageable levels across the board” with an average of 2,312 new cases being confirmed in the last seven days, he said.

Test four has been met by signing new contracts for protective equipment and boosting testing capacity to 161,214 a day, he said.

On the final test, the PM said that the adjustments have been crafted to not risk a second peak that would overwhelm the NHS.

“This package has been carefully designed so we can ease the burdens of the lockdown while expecting to keep that R below one,” he said.

Government chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that things need to be done cautiously.

He said: “The number of new infections is estimated to be roughly one in a thousand per week, it means that 54,000 new cases are occurring every week, so somewhere around eight or so thousand per day.

“That is not a low number, so it’s worth remembering that we still have a significant burden of infection, we are still seeing new infections every day at quite a significant rate and the R is close to one.

“That means there is not a lot of room to do things and things need to be done cautiously, step-by-step and monitored and the Test and Trace system needs to be effective in order to manage that.”

The PM said guidance on the changes will be published, adding: “Inevitably there may be some anomalies, or apparent inconsistencies, in these rules – and clearly what we’re proposing is still just a fraction of the social interaction each of us would normally enjoy.

“I know many of you will find this frustrating and I am sorry about that. But I’m afraid it is unavoidable, given the nature of the invisible enemy we are fighting.”

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