London, March 29
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday called on people to remain cautious as he officially lifted the stay-at-home order to allow the first phase of easing the strict COVID-19 lockdown, allowing for more outdoors activities.
Johnson said he hoped that this first phase of his roadmap to ease restrictions would kickstart a “Great British summer of sport” as people would be able to hold outdoor games and sporting activities. But he stressed the message for people to continue to work from home where possible as it is vital that “we don’t overdo it” and risk all the progress that has been made in controlling the spread of the deadly virus.
“Today marks the next stage of our roadmap to cautiously ease restrictions in England. Please follow the new rules carefully so that we can gradually get back to normal together,” said Johnson.
“I know how much people have missed the camaraderie and competition of organised sport, and how difficult it has been to restrict physical activities – especially for children. So as teams return to outdoor pitches, courts, parks and fields, I hope today will kickstart a Great British summer of sport – with people of all ages reunited with teammates, and able to resume the activities they love,” he said.
As he announced a new cross-departmental Office for Health Promotion to be in place later this year to tackle obesity and poor mental health, Johnson called for the public to participate in a fitness drive, with children recommended to aim for an hour of physical activity a day, and adults for at least 150 minutes.
Under the reviewed lockdown rules, groups of six or two households can now meet outdoors. Open-air sport facilities including tennis courts and golf courses have reopened, and wedding ceremonies can go ahead within the rule of six people attending. It marks the second easing of the lockdown imposed across England in early January, after schools reopened to all pupils on March 8.
A new government slogan – Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air – has also been unveiled by the government to emphasise the importance of ventilation in reducing the spread of the virus.
As part of Johnson’s roadmap, the next stage in the relaxation of the rules will take place no earlier than April 12, with non-essential retail reopening, and restaurants and pubs allowed to serve outdoors.
Over the weekend, Scotland Yard urged the public to remain cautious and warned that large gatherings, unless certain exemptions apply, will remain unlawful.
“We must not let Monday’s news distract us, or usher in any complacency. The risk of COVID-19 has not vanished and people across London continue to be infected with this deadly disease. Wherever possible, we should continue to be vigilant, minimise our contact as much as possible, wear a face covering where required and keep ourselves safe. That means avoiding any large gathering,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors, leading the Metropolitan Police’s strategic response to COVID-19.
The latest government figures show 423,852 UK adults received a first dose of the vaccine on Saturday, taking the overall number to 30,151,287 – with 233,964 having their second dose, bringing that total to 3,527,481. PTI