UK’s Johnson: Some businesses, primary schools can partially reopen in June

London, May 10 (efe-epa).- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday announced that primary schools and some businesses will be able to partially reopen in June in England if the coronavirus pandemic remains under control.

“We are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures,” Johnson told Britons on Sunday evening in a televised nationwide address.

If scientists advise it, in July high schools, the hotel sector and some public spaces will be able to resume operations, the conservative leader said, outlining the first cautious steps toward easing the nationwide health quarantine.

In addition, effective immediately, Johnson said that members of the public who cannot work from home, such as those in the manufacturing or construction sectors, are being “actively encouraged” to go back to work, and the British government has been working “to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces Covid-secure.”

Johnson said that anyone returning to work “should avoid public transport if at all possible, because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited,” and he added that people should use their own vehicles “or even better (move about) by walking or bicycle”.

The premier – who several weeks ago went through a bout of the coronavirus that he later said almost killed him – also encouraged citizens to take “unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise” starting on Wednesday, going outdoors to play sports, enjoy the sunshine at local parks, drive around town and do group recreational activities, albeit only with people living in the same household.

Johnson revealed a new five-level, color-coded “Covid alert system” that will allow authorities to monitor the evolution of the pandemic in different parts of England and adjust restrictions as necessary.

The new measures, which will be cancelled if a renewed surge in the pandemic – that is, a spike in the number of cases – is detected, will only be implemented in England, the most populous region in the United Kingdom with 56 million residents out of a total of 66.6 million throughout Britain as a whole, since Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own rules and regulations and have warned that for the present they will maintain their movement restrictions.

People will be allowed to drive in their own vehicles within England, but not to cross the border to Wales or Scotland for leisure activities if different restrictions are in force there.

The leaders of the autonomous governments of the other three areas have said that they will keep their “stay home” orders in place instead of adopting the plan being promoted at this point by the government in London, which is urging the public to be alert, control the virus and save lives.

The premier also said: “You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them,” such fines in the past having amounted to about 60 pounds (about $75).

Johnson will appear on Monday in the House of Commons to provide more details about the plan and defend his strategy against the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 31,855 people in the United Kingdom so far, making it the European country hardest hit by the coronavirus.


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