UK to Begin Relaxing Lockdown on Monday as Country Hits Highest Death Toll in Europe
Government to lay out 'road map' after 6 weeks of draconian lockdown measures
The UK is to begin relaxing its draconian lockdown measures on Monday after six weeks of one of the strictest stay-at-home orders in the world.
The British Government is expected to lay out a "road map" in the coming days that will define an exit from the coronavirus lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reveal the country's plan on Sunday that should see measures lifted in stages in the hope of the UK returning to "normal" around October time.
However, officials are warning that plans may change and restrictions could be reapplied if the UK is hit with a deadly second wave of the virus after measures are eased.
The news comes as UK official death toll passed 30,000 this week, making it the highest in Europe - but trends suggest that number could be even higher.
The UK now has the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the world, with the U.S. recording the largest death toll, now standing at around 75,000.
PM Johnson confirmed Wednesday that strict rules imposed under the six-week coronavirus lockdown will start to be eased on Monday.
The government set to drop its "Stay at Home" message and unveil a five-step plan to lift restrictions.
Johnson added that he will outline proposals for a "second phase" in the battle against coronavirus on Sunday.
Despite the easing of measures, however, lockdown measures will be extended for another three weeks today.
Mr. Johnson will unveil a series of "easements" to the nation on Sunday.
They will be announced after the Cabinet finalizes the details.
The "stay at home" message is to be replaced with a "be careful when you're out" mantra, according to one Cabinet minister.
The easing of lockdown will be based on how much each step of the plan affects the rate of infection - or R.
The government is thought to have drawn up a draft 50-page blueprint to gradually ease lockdown in staggered steps between now and October.
This blueprint is expected to lead to a five-step roadmap to see Britain leave lockdown completely by October.
An "emergency brake" could be applied if a second wave of the deadly virus arrives, however.
A leaked version of the exit plan's five stages has revealed:
- Step one: From Monday it is expected garden centers will reopen, more key workers' children will go to school and more staff to return to businesses that stayed open during the lockdown. The "once a day" exercise rule will also be scrapped and police will be told to stop moving on people sunbathing or sitting on benches, provided they remain two meters from others. Officers will also be told not to stop families traveling to the countryside for walks and picnics;
- Step two: From the end of May primary schools will gradually return with smaller classes. Outdoor sports where people enjoy space like golf, tennis, and angling could resume.
- Step three: From the end of June secondary schools will reopen as well as some outdoor sports and cafes returning. Gatherings of up to 30 people may be allowed;
- Step four: From the end of August pubs and restaurants will finally be allowed to reopen - but with strict social distancing rules and reduced diner numbers;
- Step five: From October, if the rate of coronavirus cases is low, all remaining areas of the economy will reopen including gyms. Sports fans returning to watch live matches will also be considered;