Coronavirus

Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives - Updated 25.06.20

Latest message from Katherine:

The Prime Minister published the Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy detailing how we plan to rebuild the UK, protect the health and safety of the British public, save lives and livelihoods.

Our success containing the virus so far has been hard fought and hard won. So it is for that reason that we must proceed with the utmost care in the next phase, and avoid undoing what we have achieved.

This plan seeks to return life to as close to normal as possible, for as many people as possible, as fast and fairly as possible, in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.

Protecting the health and safety of the British public is, and must always be, our number one priority. That is why the Government is introducing an app that people can download so they will know if they have come in contact with a case of Coronavirus and can isolate to keep the spread of the virus under control. And that is also why the Government set out five tests that must be met before we can slowly and cautiously lift lockdown restrictions.

And to chart our progress, we are establishing a new Covid Alert Level System. The Covid Alert Level will be determined primarily by R - the rate of infection - and the number of coronavirus cases. In turn, that Covid Alert Level will determine how the level social distancing measures in place. The lower the level the fewer the measures; the higher the level, the stricter the measures.

And everyone has a role to play because the R-Value is directly influenced by how many people you have contact with and for how long.  This is how we ensure the sacrifice of the British public is not wasted and we avoid going back to square one.

So as we begin to recover and return to our way of live, it is vital that we all stay alert, so we can control the virus and save lives.

Find the latest guidance here for 4th July reopenings

Further measures to ease the lockdown

  • The 2m social distance is to be changed to 1m from July 4. Experts are now conducting a review so that we can start to reopen further parts of the economy. Where it is not possible to keep 2m apart we will ask people to keep a social distance of 1m plus. Guidance will be published shortly for businesses to be able to take the necessary steps.
  • Two households of any size can now meet inside or out. There will be no size limits imposed on either side. But, you should continue to observe one-metre social distancing guidelines when meeting. There will also be no ban on meeting other households at different times, meaning grandparents will not have to choose between different grandchildren. Families will also be able to meet up with different friends consecutively.
  • Pubs and restaurants will now be able to reopen. Names and contact details of customers will be taken by businesses however, in case customers have to be contacted as part of the test and trace programme to contain the spread of the virus.
  • Places of worship can also now fully reopen.
  • Museums, cinemas and leisure activities. Leisure facilities and tourists attractions will reopen if they can do so safely, including museums, cinemas, galleries, theme parks, libraries, social clubs and community centres. People will be able to stay overnight as long as shared facilities are kept clean in places like BNBs and campsites. Changing rooms and sports courts will remain closed and people should only play close-contact sports with members of their households.
  • Indoor gyms, swimming pools, nightclubs, casinos, tattoo parlours and nail bars will not be able to reopen.
  • Households containing one adult (including those with children under 18) can join another household to form a 'bubble' to act as if they live within the same household. This means they can spend time together inside, and do not need to stay 2m apart. These bubbles must be exclusive, meaning you cannot switch the bubble you are within, or mix with multiple households. If any member of the support bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble will need to follow the normal advice and self-isolate. This does not apply to those who are shielding, however, more details will be unveiled next week about the arrangements in place for those shielding beyond the end of June. 
  • Zoos, safari parks, and outdoor attractions such as drive-in cinemas can open with social distancing in place.

New guidance for those shielding

The Health Secretary has announced plans to ease restrictions for millions of people who are shielding, so they can spend more time outside their homes and with loved ones from next month.

  • From the outset of this crisis, the Government has sought to protect clinically extremely vulnerable people, by advising them to shield at home and offering them support. Nobody underestimates how difficult this has been for them and their loved ones.
  • As we bring the virus under control, we are approaching the right time to ease shielding guidance. So from Monday 6 July, those shielding from coronavirus can gather in groups of up to 6 people outdoors, while maintaining standard social distancing in line with broader guidance, and form a ‘support bubble’ with another household.
  • Then from Saturday 1 August, the guidance will be relaxed so clinically extremely vulnerable people will no longer be advised to shield, but support will remain, including from NHS volunteers and local councils, and people who have shielded will still be able to access priority supermarket delivery slots and other help.
  • The Government has prioritised the safety of vulnerable people, and after months of hardship, these measures will allow them to regain some normality to their daily lives – as long as we all continue to stay alert and minimise the risk of infection.

Face coverings to be mandatory on public transport

The government is asking transport operators in England to make the wearing of face coverings a requirement of using public transport from 15th June. 

This will coincide with the next stage of easing restrictions, and more people will be using public transport. 

Further details can be found here. 

Testing

Testing is the key to unlock the puzzle of coronavirus, and will be how we defeat it in the end, and thanks to the ordinary efforts of those who have worked tirelessly to increase capacity, we met our target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of April.

The new NHS Test and Trace programme will ensure we keep making progress in easing the lockdown while continuing to keep the virus under control.

  • Our five-part strategy is significantly increasing testing, meaning that testing has now been expanded to anyone over the age of 5, if they have symptoms, and all NHS and social care staff and care home residents, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.
  • This new expansion of testing, made possible due to rapidly increasing testing capacity, will help protect our most vulnerable, our healthcare staff and keep people safe.

The Government has expanded testing so that anyone with symptoms can now get tested for Coronavirus – as we continue to scale up our capacity.

  • From now, anyone aged 5 and above with symptoms of Coronavirus, which will now include anosmia, is eligible for a test. If you are experiencing a loss of sense of smell or taste, a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, you can book a test online by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
     
  • After doubling lab capacity, setting up 50 regional test centres and 116 mobile testing units, and introducing home testing kits and 3 Lighthouse laboratories, the UK’s testing capacity continues to scale up towards 200,000 a day.
     
  • These extra tests will help slow the spread of the virus, allow key workers to return to work safely, and give healthy people the peace of mind they need. 

The global search for a vaccine

The Business Secretary has announced an additional £84 million to support scientists working to find a coronavirus vaccine, meaning up to 30 million doses could be available in the UK by September, if trials are successful.

  • Scientists in the UK are at the forefront of the development of a vaccine for coronavirus, and yesterday we announced that the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre will open 12 months early.
     
  • We will provide £65.5 million to support the vaccine being developed at Oxford University, and £18.5 million for Imperial College London, as trials accelerate. If the Oxford University vaccine is found to be successful, UK-based AstraZeneca will work to make 30 million doses available by September for people in the UK, as part of an agreement to deliver 100 million doses in total.
     
  • Whilst we have to be realistic that a vaccine may take more time, and indeed, could never come to fruition, it is absolutely right that we are prepared to manufacture a vaccine at pace in this country, as we continue to lead the global response in the fight against coronavirus.