LONDON — Boris Johnson set out a “careful” plan Sunday to end the coronavirus lockdown in England, with the first minor changes taking effect this week.
In a televised address to the nation today, the British prime minister said people who are unable to work from home should head to work from Monday, while the public will be free to take unlimited exercise and spend time in parks and on beaches from Wednesday.
But he insisted it would be “madness” to go further and risk a second peak of the virus that could overwhelm the National Health Service.
“No, this is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week,” Johnson said. “Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.”
Johnson outlined “the first sketch of a road map for reopening society,” which he said would be conditional on Britain keeping the transmission rate down and building up a fully operational test-and-trace system. More details will be released Monday.
Under the plan, primary schools and shops could begin a gradual reopening from the beginning of June, while cafés and restaurants that can operate with social distancing, plus some other public areas such as places of worship and cinemas, could begin opening from the beginning of July. All of them would have to abide by rigorous social distancing measures.
He added that once the infection rate has sufficiently reduced, air passengers arriving in Britain from abroad will have to spend 14 days in quarantine. That could be extended to other travelers.
The government has devised a new Covid Alert System, which will inform the public of the coronavirus risk level and determine the scope of lockdown required on a five-tier scale.