CAN’T WAIT TILL WE MEET AGAIN

Now fam­ily and friends can gather out­side from Mon­day in groups of six

Daily Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Macer Hall Po­lit­i­cal Editor

FAM­I­LIES and friends will be al­lowed to re­unite fol­low­ing months apart af­ter Boris John­son eased lock­down rules.

The Prime Min­is­ter an­nounced that out­door gath­er­ings of up to six peo­ple will be per­mit­ted from Mon­day as long as so­cial dis­tanc­ing rules are still ob­served.

Bar­be­cues and gar­den par­ties got the green light, as well as get-to­geth­ers in parks, beaches and other out­door venues.

And grand­par­ents will fi­nally be able to see their grand­chil­dren again, although shield­ing ad­vice for the most vul­ner­a­ble to coro­n­avirus re­mains in force.

The PM said: “I know that for many this will be a lon­gawaited and joy­ful mo­ment.”

Mr John­son also con­firmed that pri­mary schools and nurs­eries will start some classes for the chil­dren of non-key work­ers from Mon­day. Sec­on­daries will fol­low a fort­night later. NHS den­tists will be en­cour­aged to re­open from June 8. Out­door

markets and car show­rooms have been per­mit­ted to start trad­ing on Mon­day with other non-es­sen­tial shops re­open­ing from the mid­dle of the month.

Mr John­son an­nounced the loos­en­ing of the lock­down at the daily Down­ing Street brief­ing and re­vealed Covid-19 had claimed 377 more lives. The tragic to­tal stands at 37,837.

He said: “I know the toll that lock­down has taken on fam­i­lies and friends who have been un­able to see each other.

“So 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.

“These changes mean friends and fam­ily can start to meet their loved ones, per­haps see­ing both par­ents at once, or both grand­par­ents at once.”

He said the “hard work and sac­ri­fice” of the Bri­tish peo­ple meant the Gov­ern­ment’s five tests for eas­ing the lock­down had been met, al­low­ing the coun­try to move to a new phase.

The NHS is cop­ing with the out­break, the peak of deaths has passed and the rate of new in­fec­tions is de­creas­ing.

Progress is also be­ing made in the ef­fort to sup­ply med­i­cal and care home staff with per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment.

Fi­nally, min­is­ters and of­fi­cials are con­fi­dent a par­tial eas­ing of the lock­down will not risk a sec­ond peak of the dis­ease that could over­whelm the NHS.

In­sist­ing the Gov­ern­ment would re­main vig­i­lant, the PM said: “I can­not and will not throw away all the gains we have made to­gether, and so the changes we are mak­ing are lim­ited and cau­tious.

“It is thanks to the cau­tion we have shown so far that all five tests are be­ing met.

“That is not my achieve­ment or the Gov­ern­ment’s achieve­ment.

“It is your achieve­ment, only pos­si­ble thanks to your re­solve and ded­i­ca­tion to our na­tional pur­pose to over­come this virus. So the re­sult is we can move for­ward with ad­just­ing the lock­down in Eng­land on Mon­day.”

Giv­ing the green light to bar­be­cues and gar­den par­ties, he said: “We do want peo­ple to be able to see their friends and fam­ily.

“We do want peo­ple to be able to see two grand­par­ents at once – but it’s got to be so­cially dis­tanced.

“It’s got to be a max­i­mum of six peo­ple and we don’t want peo­ple to stay overnight. We don’t want peo­ple to go to other house­holds and stay there. We are not at that stage.

“There could be meet­ings of fam­i­lies in a gar­den, you could even have a bar­be­cue pro­vid­ing you did it in a so­cially dis­tanced way, pro­vided every­body washes their hands, pro­vided every­body ex­er­cises com­mon sense.

“This is a lim­ited step for­ward. We hope peo­ple will take ad­van­tage of it and en­joy the op­por­tu­nity to see friends and fam­ily a bit more.” Mr John­son also warned pock­ets of new in­fec­tions are likely, which will mean re­stric­tions are rein­tro­duced lo­cally.

He said: “There will be fur­ther lo­cal out­breaks. So we will mon­i­tor care­fully, we will put on the brakes as re­quired and, where nec­es­sary, we will reim­pose mea­sures.”

The PM said many ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple will have to re­main at home de­spite the lat­est eas­ing. He added: “At this stage, I am afraid that those who have been asked to shield them­selves should con­tinue to do so.

“I want to say to those ex­tremely clin­i­cally vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple who are be­ing shielded that I do un­der­stand how dif­fi­cult this has been for you es­pe­cially.

“And I want to thank you for all the ef­forts you have gone to be­cause your ac­tions have helped the NHS to cope. We are look­ing

care­fully at how we can make your life eas­ier, and how we can bet­ter sup­port you, and we want to say more on that soon.”

Chief sci­en­tific ad­viser Sir Pa­trick Val­lance said there were still 54,000 new in­fec­tions a week.

He added: “That is not a low num­ber. That means there is not a lot of room to do things and things need to be done cau­tiously.”

Pic­tures: PIPPA FOWLES, PA, AFP

On the up... Mr John­son an­nounces a let-up in lock­down yes­ter­day

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