Boris Johnson extends U.K. lockdown but outlines roadmap to reopen society
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in a televised message Sunday that he is extending the country's lockdown measures, but unveiled a three-stage plan to reopen schools, some businesses and the hospitality industry in June and July.
Why it matters: The U.K. has the second-highest confirmed coronavirus death toll in the world and the highest in Europe. The country has reported more than 220,000 recorded cases and 31,000 deaths from the virus as of Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
- “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."
The big picture: Johnson stressed that people who can work from home should do so, but said that those who cannot should be "actively encouraged" to return to work on Monday.
- That includes construction or manufacturing workers, who should avoid using public transportation to get to work and should maintain social distancing while on the job, Johnson said.
- Quarantine will also now be required for people arriving in the country by air to prevent reinfection from abroad.
What to watch: The prime minister announced the basic contours of a roadmap for how he hopes to further lift lockdown measures over the coming weeks.
- Stage 1: Johnson said that starting Wednesday, people can to leave their homes to exercise, to sit in local parks, and to play sports with members of their own household.
- Stage 2: By June 1, Johnson said the government believes the country may be able to slowly begin to reopen shops and schools.
- Stage 3: By July, he hopes the government can begin to reopen some of the hospitality industry and other public places, "provided they are safe and enforce social distancing."
Yes, but: He noted that transitioning to each stage is "conditional" and depends on "all of us, the entire country, to follow the advice, to observe social distancing, and to keep that [rate of infection] down."
What they're saying: Johnson has been criticized by his rivals for a lack of clarity on key details and for rushing to send Britons back to work while the virus remains a significant threat to public health.
- “This statement raises as many questions as it answers," Labour Party leader Keir Starmer told the BBC. "We see the prospect of England, Scotland and Wales pulling in different directions, so there's a big gap here for the government to make up.”
- “I accept a plan had to be set out, but to lack that basic clarity and consensus is a real problem.”