PM says people can meet outdoors in 'socially distanced' groups of up to six from Monday

28 May 2020, 17:13

By Matt Drake

Boris Johnson today announced a 'limited and cautious' easing to coronavirus lockdown measures in England.

Speaking at the daily government press conference on coronavirus, the Prime Minister said five key tests had been met showing that the outbreak was being contained.

He said that non-essential retail could be reopened from June 15, among other measures and said that from Monday up to six people could meet outside in parks and private gardens provided social distancing rules were maintained.

It was reported earlier today that Mr Johnson would allow people to meet outdoors for the first time since lockdown started on March 23.

At the moment only two people can meet up outside in a park or front garden. However, the guidance has forbidden people meeting up in their back gardens which critics claim is an arbitrary distinction.

People will now be able to enjoy social gatherings such as barbecues.

The Prime Minister said: "From Monday we will allow up to six people to meet outside - provided those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.

"At the moment, as you know, people can meet in parks but not in private gardens. This was a cautious first step - but we know that there is no difference in the health risk. So we will now allow people to meet in gardens and other private outdoor spaces.

"These changes mean friends and family can start to meet their loved ones - perhaps seeing both parents at once, or both grandparents at once. I know that for many this will be a long-awaited and joyful moment."

Boris Johnson has announced a relaxation of England's lockdown rules
Boris Johnson has announced a relaxation of England's lockdown rules. Picture: PA

"These changes mean friends and family can start to meet their loved ones," said Mr Johnson.

The easing of measures is to begin on June 1, the same day that primary schools will partially reopen.

Mr Johnson added: "Firstly, as I set out on Sunday, we will now reopen schools to more children. Closing schools has deprived children of their education, and as so often it is the most disadvantaged pupils who risk being hardest hit.

"On Monday we will start to put this right - in a safe way - by reopening nurseries and other early years settings and reception, year one and year six in primary schools.

"A fortnight later on 15 June, secondary schools will begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for years 10 and 12."

READ MORE: Picnics and barbecues given go ahead in Scotland as lockdown eased

READ MORE: Prime Minister hints pubs could reopen before July as social-distancing reviewed

From 1st of June

- Groups of up to six people can meet together outside in parks and gardens provided they maintain social distancing

- Nurseries and other early years school settings and reception, year one and year six in primary school will start to reopen

- Outdoor retail and car showrooms can reopen

From 15th of June

- Secondary schools will begin to provide some “face-to-face contact time” for years 10 and 12.

- Other non-essential retail can reopen as long as the five tests are still being met

READ MORE: Pret A Manger to reopen 200 sites for takeaway and delivery from June 1

The easing of restrictions comes after talks today with the government's Sage scientific advisers.

Today is also the date in which ministers have to, by law, look again at the coronavirus laws. It is part of a three-week review period.

In a separate development today, Durham Police said Mr Johnson's senior aide Dominic Cummings 'might' have broken lockdown rules had he been stopped by a police officer when driving to the market town of Barnard Castle "to test his eyesight".

A Number 10 spokesman said: "The police have made clear they are taking no action against Mr Cummings over his self-isolation and that going to Durham did not breach the regulations.

"The Prime Minister has said he believes Mr Cummings behaved reasonably and legally given all the circumstances, and he regards this issue as closed."

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