Draft plans to ease UK lockdown submitted to Downing Street

Published by Scott Challinor on April 28th 2020, 9:09am

Draft guidance has been submitted to Downing Street outlining plans to ease the UK’s Covid-19 lockdown, according to The Telegraph.

The Telegraph reports that under the proposals, shoppers and commuters will be required to wear cloth masks and that public transport will be operated differently to ensure adherence to social distancing guidelines.

Garden centres may be allowed to reopen within the next fortnight, and local recycling centres and rubbish tips may be able to open by the weekend. Police will need to agree on these guidelines in order to manage likely queues.

B&Q has already begun to reopen some of its DIY stores, a number of which contain garden centres.

The government has been under pressure to publish an exit strategy for the UK lockdown, both from Conservative MPs and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

According to The Telegraph, the Department for Transport [DfT] has opened consultation on how to run trains and buses while keeping effective social distancing in place.

The recommendations say that commuters should wear cloth coverings as opposed to medical masks when travelling on public transport, and that masks should be worn in shops.

A Telegraph source in Whitehall suggested that wearing masks in enclosed spaces could become mainstream guidance in future once the lockdown is lifted.

The source said: "The plan for masks will be more than a recommendation. It is more of a compulsion for them to be worn in shops and on public transport."

Under the draft regulations, train operators must clearly mark platforms and carriages with two-metre lines, while crowd control measures will be enforced by police, particularly on London transport such as trains and the Underground.

Train and tube carriages will operate at 50 per cent capacity and new operating timetables will be drawn up.

The Telegraph's source in Whitehall added: "On social distancing, transport bosses will need to have two-metre markers in place so people can safely keep their distance. This will need British Transport Police to maintain a presence at the entrance to stations to ensure crowd control at the busiest times. The working day will have to be staggered to avoid a single rush hour.

"The new full for train carriages will not be the same as the old full. There is no precise timescale for all this, but the government wants to have the conditions in place for when lockdown is lifted."

The draft measures could be triggered within the next fortnight if approved, with the next government review of the lockdown scheduled for May 7.

Professor Karol Sikora has said that the lockdown could be eased as soon as Monday.

Professor Sikora said: "As long as we don't see a second wave of the virus then we should plan for full operation by the end of May, including opening schools and even bars and pubs and with reduced social distancing.

"I would be aggressive about it. If we do not do that, more people will die from cancer and heart disease."

Professor Robert Dingwall, a member of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, added that several businesses could be safe to reopen in the coming weeks, including shopping centres with good quality air conditioning and office spaces, as long as safe social distancing is maintained.

He then highlighted the latest steps taken by the Italian government, as prime minister Giuseppe Conte unveiled measures to begin lifting its lockdown in phases, with restaurants, hairdressers and beauty salon expected to reopen in June.

Italy has been under lockdown since March 9, with the UK having followed suit on March 23.

Professor Dingwall said: “Since we never put the brake on as hard as Italy, we can certainly release it in step with Italy."

On April 26, Italy reported its lowest daily death toll since March 14, with 260 deceased. The UK reported 413 hospital deaths on the same day.

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Authored By

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
April 28th 2020, 9:09am

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