NEWS
10/05/2020 19:15 BST | Updated 11/05/2020 15:40 BST

Here's How The Rules Of Lockdown Have Changed

Should you return to work? How many times can you exercise each day? This is what you need to know.

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Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Sunday evening was delivered against a backdrop of uncertainty.  

Hours after Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon called his updated strategy for continuing to control Covid-19 “vague and imprecise”, the PM set out to clarify the message. 

While announcing a slight relaxation of lockdown measures, Johnson warned he would “not hesitate to put on the brakes” should there be an increase in cases of the deadly virus, which claimed hundreds more lives over the bank holiday weekend. 

So what does “stay alert, control the virus, save lives” really mean for you? Here’s how the rules – which come into effect on Wednesday – have changed.

Work

Despite some initial confusion among government ministers, the PM was clear in his speech that people who are able to work from home should continue to do so. 

However, those who cannot, such as construction and manufacturing workers, are being encouraged to return to their jobs. 

Workplaces will be given support and guidance to ensure they are “Covid secure” by implementing social distancing tactics and protective equipment for staff.

It is the first step in re-opening the economy, but for most people a return to the office won’t be on the cards for some time. 

“Work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home,” Johnson said.

Exercise 

Among the more significant relaxations, exercise is no longer limited to once a day – as long as you keep your distance from others.

“We want to encourage people to take more, and even unlimited, amounts of outdoor exercise,” the PM said.

You can now leave the house multiple times a day to exercise, drive to other locations to exercise – previously heavily discouraged – and play sport, as long as it’s with members of your own household. 

Two-metre social distancing guidelines remain in place regarding anyone else. 

Socialising 

While you’re now able to sunbathe in your local park, or simply sit and enjoy the fresh air, you can only do so with the people you live with. 

It’s still against the rules to meet up with friends and family who do not live under the same roof as you.

“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.”

He added: “It depends on all of us – the entire country – to follow the advice, to observe the social distancing and to keep that R [rate of infection] down.”

Jo Hale via Getty Images
Sunbathing in Regent's Park, London.

Travel

While certain sectors are encouraged to return to work, employees have been asked to avoid using public transport where possible.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps warned on Saturday that even a fully operational public transport system “would allow only one in 10 passengers on parts of the network” due to social distancing rules. 

Guidance around keeping tubes, trains and buses as clear as possible to allow key workers to use them safely will remain in place.  Other workers are encouraged to drive, walk or cycle.

From Wednesday you will be allowed to use your car to drive to other destinations for non-work reasons, but only with members of your own household. 

“It is thanks to your effort and sacrifice in stopping the spread of this disease that the death rate is coming down and hospital admissions are coming down,” Johnson said.

“Thanks to you, we have protected our NHS and saved many thousands of lives.”

Masks

While public opinion on wearing protective masks is divided, the PM hinted earlier this month he would be supportive of their widespread use. 

He made no mention of advising people to wear them in his latest address to the nation – but further guidance could be published this week.

Johnson previously said he believed masks could help give people “confidence” to go back to work, but on Sunday said it would be “madness” to risk allowing a second spike in the rate of infection.

“We must stay alert. We must continue to control the virus and save lives,” he added.

Schools

Schools and nurseries will remain closed, but if the spread of the virus continues to fall, some pupils could return in June “at the earliest”.

It would be a phased return, the PM said, beginning with reception, year one and year six pupils.

“Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays,”  he added.