Vulnerable people in England who have been asked to stay at home since the introduction of the coronavirus lock will be able to go outdoors again from Monday.
Those with families will be able to go out once a day with members of their household.
People living alone can meet another person from another household while maintaining social distance.
The guidance ̵
Support for protectors, such as food and medicine supplies, will continue.
In Wales, people have been asked to protect until June 15, and in Northern Ireland and Scotland, people have been asked to protect themselves for at least 12 weeks from the time they were first told to do so.
Community Secretary Robert Jenrick will announce details of the changes in England at Sunday’s government’s Downing Street press conference.
About 2.2 million people were asked to stay home when the lockdown began, as they were identified as having a particularly high risk of needing hospital treatment for coronavirus symptoms.
Most were notified by their property recipient.
They included solid organ transplant recipients, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, pregnant women with heart disease, and people with severe respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis and severe asthma.
Not all elderly people were asked to protect.
Some were later removed from the on-screen list if they no longer met the requirements.
Shielding has become “more challenging”
Lynne Loomes, a primary school teacher from Gloucestershire, is one of those who has had to stay inside and was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease last year.
She told BBC Breakfast that facilitating lockdown measures has made foreclosure more challenging – especially since she has had to tell her children that they cannot go out to socially distanced meetings with friends.
“I have to say ‘no, you can’t, because it increases my risk’,” she said.
“When it comes to the day-to-day, we have tried to get up as normal. We have tried to keep the routine as if we were going to work,” she added.
“But it has actually become more difficult because some of the rules have been eased, because we know that it doesn’t really change for us as a family.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “thousands of lives” had been saved by those who had protected themselves.
“We have looked at how we can make life easier for our most vulnerable, so today I am happy to confirm that those who protect will be able to spend time outside with someone else and follow social distance guidelines,” he said.
Some researchers have expressed concern over England’s easing of the lock-in rules, while infection rates remain at around 8,000 per day, according to the Office for National Statistics.
“Many of us prefer to see incidence down to lower levels before relaxing,” said Professor John Edmunds, of the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine and one of the government’s best advisers.
“Covid-19 is spreading too fast to lift the lockdown in England,” tweeted Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust.
England’s Deputy Chief of Staff Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said that consensus among researchers was that the new measures were not expected to push the infection rate above the R value of 1.0.
However, he urged the public to be “sensible and proportionate to the freedom we have wanted to give people”, saying that Britain is “at a dangerous moment” and that the relief of lockdown “must go slow”.
Responding to the change, Phil Anderson of the MS Society says that thousands of the more than 130,000 people with MS in the UK had felt “forgotten” after months of screening.
He said they were worried that the news had come “out of the blue” and extremely vulnerable people would like to hear “a lot more about the scientific evidence proving that this will be safe for them”.
He also called for better mental health support for anyone who needs it.
In other developments:
- Labor MP Rosie Duffield has resigned as a whip and apologizes, after meeting her married partner in April on a walk while living separately, before allowing meetings between people from different households. Duffield said in a statement that she and her partner had tried to “navigate in a difficult personal situation as responsibly as possible” and apologize for the crimes that occurred.
- Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s most important scientific adviser, has defended how guidance is presented to ministers after concerns that the closure was facilitated too quickly. He wrote in the Sunday Telegraph: “The evidence we present to the Ministers will always be based on a careful analysis of the available science at that time.”
- A letter has been sent by 26 leading British academics and health officials to Boris Johnson warning that public belief in the government has been “severely damaged” by Dominic Cumming’s trip to County Durham at the height of the lockdown. By remaining as the prime minister’s chief aide, Cummings has further cemented the public’s belief in the government, the letter states.
The Mail on Sunday claims that former teacher Robin Lees, who alerted police to Cumming’s movements, is alleged to have violated regulatory rules himself. Mr Lees denies this and says he followed the relevant rules at that time, after allegedly driving to retrieve his student daughter from Berkshire. The magazine also claims that Tim Matthews, who said he saw Mr Cummings in Durham on April 19, changed the details of an app that records the runner’s routes and times to make it appear that he had seen Mr Cummings in Durham after returning to London. The essay says that Matthews said he changed it later and that he had seen Cummings when he was out, but he can’t be sure when.
- Research indicates that almost two-thirds of home care in the UK have not tested any of their coronavirus staff. The figures from the data analysis agency indicate that the UK government is far from achieving its goal of testing all people in nursing homes early next month
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- BBC BITESIZE: How long should I do a vaccine?
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