New ad campaign launched urging people not to meet indoors as lockdown eases

29 March 2021, 08:49

By Joe Cook

The government has launched a new advert urging people in England not to gather indoors, as part of a new "Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air" campaign.

The latest slogan comes as coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased on Monday in England, allowing people to meet in groups of six people or two households.

GP Dr Hilary Jones MBE has reminded people to "take this next step safely" in the short clip, which will be broadcast on television, radio and online platforms over the coming weeks.

Read more: Boris Johnson urges public to 'remain cautious' as England lockdown eases

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The video, which animates the spread of Covid particles between a group of friends meeting indoors compared with in their garden, will be shown for the first time on Monday at 7:15pm on ITV.

It also urges people to open windows to improve ventilation in their homes - although meeting people from other households inside remains illegal.

The video shows animated coronavirus particles to demonstrate how sitting outside reduces the spread of the virus.
The video shows animated coronavirus particles to demonstrate how sitting outside reduces the spread of the virus. Picture: PA/NHS/UK Government
People are being encouraged to open windows to increase ventilation and decrease the risk of catching Covid.
People are being encouraged to open windows to increase ventilation and decrease the risk of catching Covid. Picture: PA/NHS/UK Government
GP Dr Hilary Jones MBE presents the new advert, which will be shown on TV from Monday evening.
GP Dr Hilary Jones MBE presents the new advert, which will be shown on TV from Monday evening. Picture: PA/NHS/UK Government

Experts say improving ventilation decreases the spread of the virus, as smaller droplets and aerosols containing the virus remain suspended in the air longer in enclosed spaces.

Marking the launch of the advert, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We have come so far thanks to the vaccine rollout and that progress must be protected.

"So let's take this next step safely, when you meet others do so outdoors, and keep a safe distance."

England's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, said although the number of coronavirus cases in the UK has been reduced during national lockdowns "thanks to the efforts of the public", it is "very clear that outdoor spaces are safer than indoors".

Read more: UK passes 30 million first doses of Covid-19 vaccine

Read more: Covid-19: How differently are UK countries leaving lockdown?

Ahead of the lockdown easing, Boris Johnson urged people to “remain cautious” as they enjoy the new increased social contact.

“Despite today’s easements, everyone must continue to stick to the rules, remember hands, face, space, and come forward for a vaccine when called,” he added.

Similarly, the Metropolitan Police have warned against "complacency" and urged the public to "minimise" contact with others as rules are eased.

England lockdown changes from Monday 29 March:

  • Stay at home rule ends - People will be permitted to leave their houses without the need for an exemption, although people should still minimise travel and work from home where they can
  • Outdoor gatherings permitted - Groups of either six people or two households are permitted to meet outside, including in private gardens
  • Outdoor parent and child groups permitted - Groups of up to 15 parents will be able to meet outside, with children under five years old not counting towards the limit.
  • Outdoor sport facilities reopen - Outdoor sports facilities, including golf, tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools can reopen
  • Outdoor team sports allowed - Amateur sports can restart, as formally organised outdoor sports are permitted
  • Weddings can take place - Ceremonies can restart, but only with four guests in attendance
  • Outdoor protests - Protests are now explicitly exempt from the large gathering rules, if they stick to social distancing rules

Read more: Roadmap out of lockdown: Key dates for lockdown lifting in the UK

The Met Police have urged people to remain cautious as lockdown eases.
The Met Police have urged people to remain cautious as lockdown eases. Picture: PA
Groups of up to six people or two households are permitted to sit outside from Monday in England.
Groups of up to six people or two households are permitted to sit outside from Monday in England. Picture: PA

NHS psychologist Laverne Antrobus advised planning meetings carefully to ensure that no more than six people are involved and resisting peer pressure to break the rules.

She said: "The new guidance around meeting a group of people outdoors is really exciting and is a big step in right direction, however, it's really important to stick to the guidance and only meet outdoors.

Read more: PM suggests workers have had enough 'days off' as government pushes return to work

"This may mean being put in situations where you have to say no to joining a large group of more than six, or perhaps feeling pressured to go indoors with people outside your bubble.

"It is so important to set your boundaries and be assertive in those situations, and to continue following the guidance to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the virus."