Government to scrap ‘stay at home’ message with plan to ease lockdown – starting with more exercise and sunbathing in parks

Cabinet considers plans ahead of prime ministerial statement on Sunday, with new 'Stay Safe, Save Lives' message


Photo: PA

By Alain Tolhurst

07 May 2020

Boris Johnson is ready to ditch his “stay at home” message as he reveals the first stage of easing the coronavirus lockdown, starting with lifting the limits on outdoor exercise.

As well as removing the one-hour time limit, people will be able to leave the house repeatedly in a single day - as long as they maintain a two-metre distance from those outside their household.

And the tight restrictions on sunbathing and holding picnics in parks will be lifted, as well a potential return for open-air markets, cafes with outdoor spaces, and more access to high streets and cemeteries.


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The plans emerged as the UK became the first country in Europe to officially report more than 30,000 deaths, after a further 649 people died as of Wednesday.

The measures, due to come in from next week, will be revealed by the prime minister on Sunday night as he details the “roadmap” for the UK to be led out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government is said to also be looking at allowing people to play non-contact sports such as golf and tennis in the coming weeks as it switches to a new slogan.

Officials have ordered the current 'Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives' mantra to be removed from websites and social media on Saturday night, with Johnson expected to reveal a new “Stay Safe, Save Lives” message.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday Johnson defended the plan to make the announcement in a televised address on Sunday, rather than to parliament first, saying it was because the government wanted to “get going” with some of the measures as soon as Monday.

The Mirror is reporting that this will mark the first part of a 50-page blueprint for easing the lockdown, starting next week and ending in October in five main stages.

It involves the staggered opening of schools and businesses, with the final restrictions on gyms, large gatherings and returning fans to football matches set for the autumn, though plans could be derailed if the UK faces a second spike in Covid-19 or another seasonal flu.

Meanwhile the Financial Times reports it will be more of a two-pronged approach – while some restrictions are loosened others will be tightened, such as the introduction of tougher border controls.

It says the new guidance will recommend the wearing of face masks on public transport, and the 14-day quarantine period for all arrivals may be extended to UK citizens too.

On Thursday morning the PM will chair a cabinet meeting at the end of the current three-week lockdown period to agree on the next steps.

The measures are seen as part of a plan to prevent lockdown “fatigue” by presenting a path back towards normality, but the relatively modest first shift is unlikely to satisfy the Conservative MPs who want to see the country re-opened for business as soon as possible.

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