Call for more clarity as three-step ‘roadmap’ to lifting coronavirus lockdown unveiled
- Credit: PA
There have been calls for more clarity in response to the Government unveiling a ‘roadmap’ to lift coronavirus restrictions.
The three-step plan, announced by Boris Johnson in a televised address to the nation on Sunday, will start on Wednesday (May 13).
People are being encouraged to spend more time outdoors, with unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise and even play sports, but not meeting up with more than one person outside of their household.
Visiting and sunbathing in local parks will also be allowed, as will driving to other destinations – a stipulation which will be met with concern for residents in North Devon who do not want to see beauty spots becoming overcrowded.
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.
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Later steps include the gradual reintegration of children into schools and the reopening of businesses, including pubs, restaurants and hairdressers.
However, North Devon Council leader David Worden said more clarity was needed.
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Cllr Worden said: “Who exactly should return to work and when? How is social distancing going to be maintained at work or in schools? Will the police lose their powers of checking on those making unnecessary journeys?
“The great fear is that without adequate testing and tracing we could see a spike in new cases.
“Much more clarity is required or there will be a lot of confusion. We have been relatively fortunate in North Devon with fewer cases and fewer deaths than most of the country and we certainly don’t want to throw away the sacrifices people have made to keep safe and take pressure off the NHS.”
Devon County Council leader John Hart welcomed the Prime Minister’s statement as providing some hope but said he wanted to see the details of how restarting the economy could be achieved safely.
“We will have to be particularly careful in the South West that we don’t see a spike in infections” he said.
“Thanks to the common sense and cooperation of the vast majority of our citizens, we have remained the lowest region in the country for infections throughout this pandemic.
“That must continue as we begin to see the economy start to rev up again - safely - whilst our residents can have some idea of how we can begin to move slowly out of lockdown.
“It is vital to get our economy going again but we must do this slowly and surely to avoid any second or subsequent spikes which would see us plunged back into an even more severe lockdown.
“Because of that danger, I would renew my appeal to holidaymakers and second homeowners to stay away from Devon especially as they are still forbidden from staying overnight.
“But we will be delighted to see you as soon as it is safe for you to visit.”
The Government published a 50-page document setting out more detail on how the country will be lifted out of lockdown on Monday (May 11).
‘Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy’, also includes new advice for people to wear face-coverings in ‘enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible’ such as some shops and on public transport.
Mr Johnson said in the document: “This plan seeks to return life to as close to normal as possible, for as many people as possible, as fast and fairly as possible, in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.
“The overriding priority remains to save lives.
“And to do that, we must acknowledge that life will be different, at least for the foreseeable future. I will continue to put your safety first, while trying to bring back the things that are most important in your lives, and seeking to protect your livelihoods.”
Step two will begin no earlier than June 1, and will include a phased return for schools and early years settings, starting with reception, year one and year six and followed by year 10 and 12 pupils.
Sporting events will be permitted to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, and ‘non-essential retail’ will be reopened ‘when and where it is safe to do so’.
The second step may also see families able to include one other household in a ‘household bubble’ to help those currently isolated.
The Government is also looking at being able to facilitate ‘small weddings’ and is examining how to enable people to gather in ‘slightly larger’ groups for such occasions.
Step three, which will come in July at the earliest, includes the opening of some of the remaining businesses, including hairdressers, pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities such as cinemas.
In his address on Sunday, the Prime Minister said: “Throughout this period of the next two months we will be driven not by mere hope or economic necessity.
“We are going to be driven by the science, the data and public health.
“And I must stress again that all of this is conditional, it all depends on a series of big Ifs.
“It depends on all of us - the entire country - to follow the advice, to observe social distancing, and to keep that [rate of infection] down.”