Boris Johnson addressed the nation on Government’s progress in dealing with Coronavirus today, in a Briefing from 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister announced that the R number for the UK is between 0.7 – 0.9; and that ONS data shows infections to falling every day. Changes to Englands lockdown guidelines were announced.
The PM announced that Government’s goal is to return life to ‘as close to normal’ for as many people as possible. “That goal remains the same, but the tools will change. “
The Prime Minister said we understand the virus more, which means we can control it with targeted local action. The approach varies across the UK. Boris announced a new ‘framework’ to control future outbreaks in England. local authorities will have new powers to be able to close specific premises and outdoor spaces so they can act quickly to control outbreaks in their area.
Targetted local Coronavirus actions include ‘Local stay at home orders’ to stop people from leaving areas; reducing gathering sizes and restrict transport in and out of COVID19 restricted areas.
The Prime Minister made it clear the local lockdowns will be hard, they won’t be easy and will feel unjust; but they will be needed,
In the leadup to colder weather and the winter-flu season, the PM said we will need to go further, increase antigen testing to a monumental 500,000 tests PER DAY, by the end of October!
The PM said there is a risk that the virus may be more virulent over winter, and claimed his Government are taking steps to prepare for this. All countries in the UK will receive additional funds to make this possible, and so they can maintain the (mostly unused!) nightingale hospitals until the end of March 2021.
Detailing his new plans, PM johnson stated that …
From today everyone can use public transport.
From the 25th July, indoor sports facilities, gyms and swimming pools) can open.
On the 1st August, Government will update workplace advice; Instead of telling people to work from home, the decision will be put into the hands of the employers. They will decide whether staff will work from home, or in a COVID-19 safe workplace (which follows guidance).
On the 1st August indoor bowling, skating rinks, casinos and close contact services (like beauticians) will reopen.
Schools, Colleges and universities will fully return in the new term.
Nightclubs and soft play will remain closed.
Lastly, in October conferences and business events will return in October, just in time for the TORY CONFERENCE!
Missing from the advice was any new guidence on face coverings.
These changes to the Coronavirus guidelines will be welcomed by millions; However, medical experts have publically stated that this is much too fast too soon.
The most surprising omission was on face coverings and how they should be used as businesses reopen. The Prime minister’s decision allows employers to decide when is safe to open has been described as him ‘passing the buck’; with many seeing this as a route for unscrupulous employers to force staff back to work before it is safe.