This evening (Thursday), the Prime Minister confirmed a further relaxation of the lockdown measures from Monday.
Groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.
As we already knew, from Monday, some primary schools will open to yr R, 1 and yr 6 pupils, followed by non-essential shops two weeks later.
Exact rules will vary, but head teachers have been working out how best to minimise risks for pupils, staff and parents.
Many parents and teachers have written to me with concerns about schools reopening next week and I share their concerns.
Schools have worked very hard to put safety measures in place but there is still more work to be done by the Government before we can be confident that children returning to school won’t risk a second wave.
Tonight we were reminded by the Chief Scientific Officer, that the virus reproduction (R) number across the UK is “fragile”– it’s below one (above one means the virus will start to spread again) but in some places only just, and there is evidence the numbers of infections are rising in Bedford.
Our nation’s health must come first.
The Government may have announced its new track and trace scheme but it is not fully operational and the much-lauded app won’t be ready for several weeks.
To safely ease from lockdown we need a reliable test, trace, isolate regime in effective operation including:
Test results turned round in 24 hours.
Sick pay & support for people to isolate.
A clear public health messaging – not undermining it with irresponsible support for Dominic Cummings.
The Government’s chief adviser may not have respect for the rules, but I urge all of you to enjoy the latest relaxation of the lockdown measures with vigilance care and consideration for others.
The last thing we want is a second peak so we must continue to socially distance with anyone outside our households and remember the basics, like washing our hands.