People in England can meet different person each day as long as rules are obeyed

12 May 2020, 19:45

People can now meet each other in parks as long as social distancing rules are followed
People can now meet each other in parks as long as social distancing rules are followed. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

People in England can meet a different person each day under the new lockdown rules as long as it is in a park and they observe social distancing, the Health Secretary has said.

Matt Hancock sought to explain the new rules as ministers faced criticism for “mixed messaging” and creating confusion.

He dismissed the criticism and insisted that the rules are “straightforward” and required “common sense”.

The Government unveiled its three-phase “roadmap” to ease England’s lockdown on Monday, which allows people to meet one person outside their household in parks, travel unlimited distances for leisure, exercise however much they like and return to work if they cannot work from home.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all stuck by a full stay-at-home lockdown bar a slight relaxing of exercise rules.

Asked on Thursday by Sky’s Kay Burley whether the public can now meet a different person in a park each day, Mr Hancock said: “Yes, at greater than two metres. Being outside is safer than being inside, but it is not zero risk.”

Matt Hancock has said people can meet a new person every day as long as it is in a park
Matt Hancock has said people can meet a new person every day as long as it is in a park. Picture: PA

Insisting the messaging was “really clear”, he added: "We are making some baby steps, some relaxations but we're doing it very, very carefully - because we don't want the R rate to get above one and infections get out of control again.”

The Government is still not allowing family members from different households to meet in gardens or houses, but Mr Hancock said cleaners and carers can continue to be employed if they maintain two metres distance.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starner hit out at Boris Johnson for not giving “clear directions” and called for “clarity and reassurance”.

Millions of workers in England are readying to return to work on Wednesday morning after the PM “actively encouraged” those who cannot home-work to restart but avoid public transport, an approach branded “a recipe for chaos” by unions.

New guidance published on Monday urged people to wear face coverings on public transport and some shops, which Mr Hancock said was based on “some evidence” that it helps reduce transmission when around strangers.

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In the second phase of the Government “roadmap”, ministers plan to reopen primary schools for Reception and years one and six from 1 June, open some non-essential shops and restart some sporting events without crowds.

The third stage, from 4 July at the earliest, would see some pubs and hairdressers reopen.

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