Boris Johnson Says You Can Meet One Person Outside Of Your Household
The UK government has confirmed that meeting one member of your family or a friend at a time from outside your household is acceptable - however, Prime Minister Boris Johnson added that meeting more than one would be 'pushing it too far'.
Ahead of this evening's coronavirus Q&A session (11 May), the Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty explained that as long as social distancing is still practiced, it's beneficial to both mental and physical health to have the option to meet with people outside of your household.
Further details on how the UK will move forward in the coming months have also been released, tying into a new 60-page document.
Speaking in the House of Commons earlier today, Johnson discussed a 'roadmap to lift restrictions step-by-step', which has been broken down into three steps - the first being the most immediate; the second and third expected to come further down the line.
When asked about how the government will deal with people 'flouting' the regulations, Johnson said he hopes to rely on the public exercising 'common sense'.
"The starting point of the fines will be £100. It will be lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days, but it will go up and up and up to £3,600," Johnson said.
"We don't want to impose these fines - nobody wants to impose these fines. We don't want to add to the burdens of our wonderful police force.
"So that's why I know the British public will exercise their common sense."
On the potential of a second lockdown, Johnson added: "We will make sure that where there are local flare-ups, where we see the disease taking off again, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes."
Step One, which takes effect from 13 May, includes changes announced in Johnson's speech yesterday - including people returning to work if they cannot work from home, and people being able to spend more time outdoors - along with other measures such as wearing face masks or coverings.
Johnson also confirmed people could meet with one person from outside of their household, but that this must be in an open space, and maintain two-metre social distancing.
Addressing the topic of 'social and family contact', the government announced it is considering allowing people to expand their social network to other households as part of Step Two, which will be brought in no earlier than 1 June.
"As restrictions continue, the Government is considering a range of options to reduce the most harmful social effects to make the measures more sustainable," the document says.
"For example, the Government has asked SAGE to examine whether, when and how it can safely change the regulations to allow people to expand their household group to include one other household in the same exclusive group.
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"The intention of this change would be to allow those who are isolated some more social contact, and to reduce the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions, while continuing to limit the risk of chains of transmission."
It continues: "This could be based on the New Zealand model of household 'bubbles' where a single 'bubble' is the people you live with. As in New Zealand, the rationale behind keeping household groups small is to limit the number of social contacts people have and, in particular, to limit the risk of interhousehold transmissions.
"In addition, the Government is also examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings."
Also as part of Step Two, cultural and sporting events are set to be permitted 'behind closed-doors for broadcast', while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact.
The reopening of businesses including bars, pubs and restaurants, however, cannot be expected until Step Three, which will come 'no earlier than 4 July'.
The document states: "The ambition at this step is to open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas).
"They should also meet the COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part. Nevertheless the Government will wish to open as many businesses and public places as the data and information at the time allows."
Debating the plans in the House of Commons, Johnson also called on employers to be 'reasonable' when it comes to childcare for their staff.
Yesterday, Johnson announced a set of updated rules, telling people: "Everyone has a role to play in helping to control the virus by staying alert and following the rules."
The six updated rules are:
Stay at home as much as possible
Work from home if you can
Limit contact with other people
Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
Wash your hands regularly
If you or anyone in your household has symptoms, you all need to self-isolate
In his address to the nation later that day outlining the next steps for tackling the virus, Johnson announced that unlimited outdoor exercise will be allowed from Wednesday. He also said that bars, pubs and restaurants could reopen by July, while schools could reopen from June.
However, he also stressed that these new measures were conditional, all the outcome of the next few months all depends on 'a big series of ifs', adding: "If there are outbreaks, if there are problems, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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