Groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday 1 June, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.
The Prime Minister announced the change as he set out a carefully-designed package to ease the burdens of lockdown in a way that is expected to keep the R rate down.
Thanks to the public’s continued patience and hard work in helping to protect the NHS and contain the virus, the Prime Minister confirmed that the government’s five tests are being met. This means we can now move forward to the next phase of adjusting the lockdown.
In line with the Prime Minister’s announcements earlier this week, a series of measures will be put in place in England from Monday 1 June in three core areas – schools, retail, and social contact.
Primary schools will welcome back children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on 1 June, and nurseries and other early years settings will be reopened. On 15 June, secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will begin to provide some face-to-face contact time for Year 10 and 12 and the equivalent groups in further education. This will help students prepare for exams next year, and we expect there to be around a quarter of these secondary students in at any point.
The Prime Minister has also acknowledged that some schools may not be able to reopen immediately, and has committed the government to continuing to work with the sector to ensure any schools experiencing difficulties are able to open as soon as possible.
Thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres will also begin to reopen in June as we restart the economy.
Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, provided they meet COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. We intend to open all other non-essential retail from 15 June, as long as the government’s five tests are still being met and COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed.
Recognising the impact that lockdown is having on family and friends who have been unable to see each other, the Prime Minister announced today that from 1 June up to six people from different households will be allowed to meet outside, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces.
The evidence shows that the risk of transmission is significantly lower outdoors and this step will mean that people can see more of their friends, family and loved ones.
However, as we take this small step forward, it is critical that those from different households continue to stay 2 metres apart. And it remains the case that people should not spend time inside the homes of their friends and families, other than to access the garden or use the toilet.
Minimising contact with others is still the best way to prevent transmission. The Prime Minister was clear today that people should try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession – so that we can avoid the risk of quick transmission between lots of different families and continue to control the virus. Those who are shielding should continue to do so. The Government recognises the toll this is taking on groups that have been asked to shield and hopes to say more soon on what further support we can provide.
Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said –
Thanks to the caution we have shown so far, 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.
I want to reaffirm that fundamental commitment to the British people that all the steps we have taken, and will take, are conditional.
They are conditional on all the data, and all the scientific advice, and it is that scientific advice which will help us to judge what we are doing is safe.
And as before, we will see how these new changes are working, and look at the R value and the number of new infections before taking any further steps, so we can ensure anything we do does not risk a second peak that could overwhelm the NHS.
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.
The government will closely monitor the impact of the changes set out today and continue to follow the scientific advice to ensure the five tests continue to be met before we take any further steps.
So far, the public have shown high levels of compliance and we are confident that this will continue as restrictions are relaxed, and that people will do the right thing to control the virus and save lives.
The police will continue to take the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging individuals to follow the law. Where people do not follow the rules, the police will have the power to enforce these requirements as a last resort.