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Health secretary Matt Hancock is facing questioning on ITV’s this morning after the government released its 50-page document outlining plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown measures in the UK.
Boris Johnson held a press conference last night following his lockdown ‘road map’ announcement on Sunday night and a speech in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon.
From Wednesday, people in England will be able to enjoy unlimited time outdoors and meet up with one person from outside their household in a park or other public open space.
He said the government would be ready to reimpose controls if there was any sign of the transmission rate of the virus picking up again.
As part of his plan to end the lockdown, children could return to school as early as June while pubs and restaurants could be back open in July at the earliest.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to make an announcement on the furlough scheme today.
At least 6.3m people are currently having up to 80 per cent of their salaries paid by the taxpayer under the wage scheme at a cost of some £8bn.
Mr Sunak has previously said he was preparing to ‘wean’ workers and businesses off the programme – which currently runs until the end of June – but calls have been made for it to be prolonged.
Ministers are also expected to set out guidance on how people can travel safely on public transport today, after the prime minister announced he wants those who cannot work from home to return to their workplace this week.
We’ll have the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic and the UK lockdown throughout the day.
Scroll down for more.
Matt Hancock is asked by Philip Schofield on This Morning whether people will need to accept that this year summer is cancelled and all holidays are cancelled.
“I think that’s likely to be the case but we haven’t made a final decision on that yet,” he says.
He says the government will seek to open some hospitality venues from July – if we manage to keep the spread of the virus down.
“It is unlikely that international holidays will be possible this summer, I think that’s the reality,” Mr Hancock says.
Asked at what point this will be over and people will be able to hug each other again, Mr Hancock says the point this will be “totally sorted” will be when there is a vaccine.
The number of deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK has now passed 40,000, according to the latest available data.
The total includes new figures published today by the Office for National Statistics.
These figures show that 35,044 deaths involving Covid-19 occurred in England and Wales up to May 1 (and had been registered up to May 9).
The latest figures from the National Records of Scotland, published last week, showed 2,795 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to May 3.
And the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, also published last week, showed 516 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Northern Ireland up to May 6.
Together these figures mean that so far 38,355 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.
A further 1,678 hospital patients in England who had tested positive for Covid-19 died between May 2 and May 10, according to figures published on Monday by NHS England – which, together with the total figure of 38,355 registered deaths, indicates the overall death toll for the UK is just over 40,000.10:17
There’s a scientific reason for the difference in the four nations of the UK taking different approaches to lockdown, Mr Hancock says.
The R number is higher in Scotland and Wales, so they have taken different decisions, he says.10:16
Mr Schofield says many people cannot cycle to work because it’s too far – how do they go to work when people are being discouraged from using public transport?
Mr Hancock says people should avoid public transport unless they absolutely have to use it because it is safer when less people use it.
We should leave public transport for those who really need it, he says.
He says cycling is much more pleasant now than in normal times because there are less cars on the road.
Asked by Holly Willoughby what will happen to kids at school – will they have to wear masks? Will they understand social distancing?
Mr Hancock says kids will absolutely not be sprayed with disinfection at school, as reports from one union suggest.
Children are thankfully very rarely affected by the virus, he says, but children do risk spreading the disease.
We’ll keep a very very close eye on it, he says.
He says the message the government wants to get through to parents is:“It is safe for your child at school”.10:09
Asked by Philip Schofield on This Morning why people are having to choose between their parents, Mr Hancock says seeing them one at a time is fine.
“You can see one, then you can see the other.”
He says “large groups gathering is not good” but the government is looking at how to allow households to start seeing one other household – the ‘bubble’ idea.
Mr Schofield asks if I can see his parents separately 10 minutes apart and Mr Hancock says yes.
“That’s utterly bonkers,” Mr Schofield replies.10:05
There were 8,312 coronavirus-related care home deaths registered up to May 1 in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics said.09:47
Commuters using public transport should keep two metres apart from others “wherever possible”, wear a face covering, use contactless payment and avoid rush-hour, according to guidance published by the Department for Transport.
Passengers should face away from each other when they cannot keep a two-metre gap and avoid any physical contact with other passengers.
The guidance also says all transport operators have been told to ensure that stations and services are regularly cleaned and to keep routes for passengers clear to avoid crowding.
The Government’s guidance also “sets out the steps operators should take to provide safe workplaces and services for their staff and passengers across all modes of private and public transport”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“Transport operators and staff have been working hard to ensure that people who need to get to work are able to do so, including crucial NHS workers and all those on the front line of the fight against the virus.
“Alongside the cycling and walking revolution we are launching, and clear guidance to passengers and operators published today, we can all play our part by following the advice and reducing pressure on public transport.
“If we take these steps, all those who need to use public transport should feel confident that they can do so safely, with the space to maintain social distancing as far as possible.”
The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has been asked to look at the idea of a household “bubble” in the coming weeks, where one household is allowed to join up with and interact with one other household only.
Mr Hancock said the idea will help relieve the “anguish” of people wanting to see their grandparents or partners.
He told BBC Breakfast: “The principle behind this bubble idea, which we are looking at with the scientists to see how big an impact it would have on R, the principle is that if you’re in one household and essentially you don’t see anybody from outside your household, and then there’s another household – say it’s another part of your family – and they don’t see anyone from outside their household, then the risk is lower of those two households meeting each other, so long as they don’t form a chain and don’t see people in other households.
“It will help if we can do it in a way that doesn’t impact on R. I think it will help with this anguish of a lot of people wanting to see family members in another household, whether that’s a grandparent – although there are the risks for older grandparents – or for people who are in a relationship but are in different households, and I understand that yearning as well.”09:39
Mr Hancock said the government had restricted people to seeing only one person from outside their household at a time in the new measures in order to stop mass gatherings.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “What we don’t want is large groups of people gathering, and you have to make a judgment to what is reasonable and where to set the rules.
“It is perfectly reasonable to have a rule that only one individual can meet up with one other, at that two-metre distance, and outside is safer than inside because the science is clear that, although the risks are not zero, there is a lower risk to people being outside.
“Therefore, a rule that you can only meet up with one other person just protects everybody against that burgeoning into large groups of people.”https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html09:35
Health secretary Matt Hancock refused to directly answer whether people have a legal right not to go to work if they do not feel safe due to coronavirus when he was asked the question twice on BBC Breakfast.
In response, he said: “Well this needs to be a collaborative effort. Absolutely workplaces need to follow the guidelines on making a workplace safe for Covid, so that is very important.
“Critically, everybody who can work from home should continue to work from home.”
Asked for a second time whether people are protected by law if they felt unsafe in the workplace, Mr Hancock said: “Well, employment law has not changed, but that isn’t the point.
“The point is that businesses and employees should be working together to make the best of a very difficult situation.”09:33
Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, said the Chancellor should not wind back the furlough scheme – paying 60 per cent of wages rather than 80 per cent, as is expected – until the economy has recovered further.
Lord King told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“Indeed, keep it at 80 per cent.
“I don’t think it makes sense to regard this as the major cost of the Covid-19 crisis in economic terms.
“These payments under Government schemes are transfers from taxpayers in general to businesses, it will lead to an increase in national debt (but) we can finance that over a long period, particularly given the very low level of long-term real interest rates.
“The real cost of this shutdown is not measured by the impact on the public finances but by the lost incomes and outputs in the economy, a cost which is likely to end up as an order of magnitude (though no one can really know this) of several hundred billion pounds. That’s an enormous cost.”
He said the “economy ought to have recovered to a very large extent” before Rishi Sunak considers ending the furlough scheme in a bid to avoid a wave of redundancies when the support is curtailed.09:31
Mr Hancock said face coverings would not help in offices or schools.
“There is some evidence, it’s weak, but there is some evidence that the face covering can help if you’re in an indoor place where there are other people who you don’t see regularly,” he said.
“If you’re stuck in an office with them for a long time, then the face covering doesn’t help, or in school, for instance, that’s why we don’t recommend them for offices or schools.”
He also said providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff in the workplace was the “responsibility of the employer” but support was available.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html09:29
Regarding the new contact-tracing app, Mr Hancock told Sky News plans were in place to have it rolled out across England by mid-May.
He said: “We’re rolling out in mid-May. The Isle of Wight project has gone well so far, we’ve learned a lot about how the app operates, also about people who don’t have the app – how to make sure that they can get testing and the contact tracing can work for them – the interaction of the technology and the human-based contact tracing.
“We’re pleased with progress, and we’re going to bring it in. And we’re going to learn the lessons from the technical improvements that we’re making from what we’ve seen on the Isle of Wight.”09:26KEY EVENT
Budget airline Ryanair has announced plans to restore 40 per cent of its flight schedule from July 1.
Airline bosses said the measure is subject to government restrictions on flights within the EU being lifted and “effective public health measures” being put in place at airports.
Passengers and crew will also be required to wear face masks and undergo temperature checks.
Commenting on new workplace guidance, Mr Hancock said cleaners coming to people’s homes should exercise social distancing and follow other good practices such as washing hands regularly.
Asked why grandparents could not see their grandchildren but children could see their carers, Mr Hancock said it was a “scientific fact” that older people were more vulnerable to Covid-19.
He added: “The principles are really clear and the public has been sensible so far. The Great British public have really understood what social distancing means, why we need to do it… the principles are outside is better than inside, stay two metres away, wash your hands and clean the surfaces, and see as few people as you can, outside of your household because that virus spreads but we do also at the same time need to get people back to work.”09:22
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News the reproduction rate of the virus was “broadly in the middle of the range” of 0.5 to 0.9 but was definitely below one.MORE ON