The Prime Minister has set out three steps to lifting the coronavirus lockdown including in schools and workplaces subject to a number of conditions.
Boris Johnson spoke from 10 Downing Street as the number of deaths rose by 269 to 31,855 and the number of new cases went up 3,923 to 219,183.
Mr Johnson urged people to go back to work tomorrow if they can but said that, if possible, people should drive, walk or cycle rather than use public transport.
Critically for Brighton and Hove, it is unlikely that pubs, cafés and hotels will reopen before July but children look likely to have a phased return to school from next month.
The government’s advice has changed from “stay home” to “stay alert” – and Mr Johnson said that the passengers arriving in Britain – or returning to the country – would face two weeks in quarantine.
The televised announcement was made as the number of hospital deaths confirmed by Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) rose to 110.
The NHS trust runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, in Brighton, and the Princess Royal Hospital, in Haywards Heath.
The number of confirmed cases of the covid-19 coronavirus has reached 399 in Brighton and Hove.
This equates to a rate of 137.4 per 100,000 people – one of the lowest rates in the country. The rate for England is 242.9.
In neighbouring Mid Sussex, which is also served by BSUH, there have been 277 cases of the coronavirus – a rate of 185 per 100,000.
And across the UK a total of 3,923 new cases have been confirmed, making 219,183 in all since the start of the pandemic.
The number of hospital deaths confirmed by the Sussex Community Foundation Trust is 15. The trust has its headquarters at Brighton General Hospital which is no longer used as a hospital. But the trust runs hospitals elsewhere across Sussex.
Western Sussex Hospitals, which runs hospitals in Worthing and Chichester and shares its leadership with BSUH, has now recorded 86 deaths. East Sussex Healthcare, which runs hospitals in Eastbourne and Hastings, has reported 69, while the figure for Surrey and Sussex Healthcare is 208.
The number of coronavirus cases in West Sussex so far is 1,228. The number in East Sussex has now reached 648. With the 399 cases in Brighton and Hove, the figure for Sussex as a whole now totals 2,275.
Mr Johnson said that he had “a conditional plan”, adding: “Since our priority is to protect the public and save lives, we cannot move forward unless we satisfy the five tests.
- We must protect our NHS.
- We must see sustained falls in the death rate.
- We must see sustained and considerable falls in the rate of infection.
- We must sort out our challenges in getting enough PPE to the people who need it, and yes, it is a global problem but we must fix it.
- And last, we must make sure that any measures we take do not force the reproduction rate of the disease – the R – back up over one so that we have the kind of exponential growth we were facing a few weeks ago.
“We must reverse rapidly the awful epidemics in care homes and in the NHS and, though the numbers are coming down sharply now, there is plainly much more to be done.
“This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week. Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.
“And the first step is a change of emphasis that we hope that people will act on this week.
“We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must.
“We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.
“And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.
“So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.
“And to ensure you are safe at work we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces covid-secure.
“And when you do go to work, if possible do so by car or even better by walking or bicycle. But just as with workplaces, public transport operators will also be following covid-secure standards.
“And from this Wednesday, we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise.
“You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.
“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.
“In step two – at the earliest by June 1 – after half term – we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
“Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays. And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport.
“And step three – at the earliest by July – and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice, if and only if the numbers support it, we will hope to reopen at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing.
“I must stress again that all of this is conditional, it all depends on a series of big Ifs. It depends on all of us – the entire country – to follow the advice, to observe social distancing, and to keep that R down.
“And to prevent re-infection from abroad, I am serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.”