The UK government has announced the first “modest” changes to the lockdown regime to take place this week, where members of the public will no longer be harassed by police for being stationary in public places, but still may not meet with people from outside their own households.
Promising the government was balancing the importance of saving lives with not destroying livelihoods, those in industries where home working is not necessarily viable — for instance in construction and manufacturing — are being encouraged to return to work from Wednesday this week.
Doing a round of media interviews Monday morning after the Prime Minister’s announcement Sunday night, first secretary of state Dominic Raab said the government would be providing more clarity on how to return to work without breaking social distancing rules in the coming hours so people had “some clarity” for Wednesday.
Saying the new “modest” changes to lockdown would allow people to regain “some semblance” of pre-coronavirus normality in their lives, Mr Raab said it would now be possible to go outside with your own household to play sports or enjoy the sunshine. This stands in contrast to the previous phase of the government’s police-enforced lockdown, where officers have been deployed to move people on from parks and beaches, even when they are in no proximity to other human beings.
In the most remarkable examples of the previous policy, cyclists in remote areas have been chased by police drones and footage shaming them shown online, and officers with megaphones driving through city parks have ordered people to go home.
Now, it will be possible to leave the house for “unlimited” exercise and leisure, as long as it is not near other people. Mr Raab said told UK radio station LBC Monday: “Let me give you a concrete example. If someone wants to go out with a member of their household for a game of tennis, that’s something you can do while staying two meters apart [from the rest of the population]. What you couldn’t then do is go and mill around the clubhouse with lots of people where you’d all be close together.”
In line with this, he urged the public to avoid public transport if at all possible. He continued: “If at all possible we want people to go by other means — cycling, walking, or taking the car — but if not and if it’s essential then by public transport… but we can’t go back to a situation where the tube and the busses will be as full as they were before.”
As Breitbart London reported Sunday, how many people precisely the change to lockdown will actually impact is unclear. Many already work from home after the first two months of lockdown, and with schools still closed for months more at least, parents will not necessarily be free to return to work.