Boris Johnson unveils 'conditional plan' to reopen society

The UK has entered its eighth week of lockdown and Boris Johnson has unveiled a "conditional plan" to reopen aspects of society, allowing people in England to spend more time outdoors from Wednesday.

The PM said the government wants workers who cannot work from home to return to work but to avoid public transport .

He said sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open, for example this includes food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories. The only exceptions to this are those workplaces such as hospitality and non-essential retail which during this first step the government is requiring that they remain closed until July.

In addition to being able to leave home as many times as they wish for exercise or to sunbathe in parks, people in England would also be able to drive to other destinations – allowing people in England to spend more time outdoors from Wednesday.

Mr Johnson said a new Covid Alert System with five levels would govern how quickly lockdown restrictions could be eased and hoped the next step "at the earliest by the 1st of June" would be for some primary schools to reopen in England.

The PM added: "This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week. Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures." Mr Johnson also confirmed that fines for the "small minority who break" lockdown rules will increase.

He also said the government is now advising people to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible. But he says this does not mean people should wear medical face masks.

The PM also said he was "serving notice" that it would soon be the time to impose a quarantine on people coming into the country by air. This was something that was initially in place when the virus broke out.

Further details about England's lockdown are expected in guidance to be published on Monday.

People will also be allowed to drive to parks and beaches in England as long as they observe social distancing.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Johnson's speech lacked "clarity and consensus" and raised "as many questions as it answers".

Acting Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said he did not understand why the government had changed its messaging at this stage. "It risks what people have fought so hard for," he said.

Mr Johnson said in his speech he had consulted "across the political spectrum, across all four nations of the UK" and that his plan was a "a general consensus on what we could do". But Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said after the speech she felt the PM should have stressed "more strongly" that most of the changes he referred to in his speech applied to England only.

The PM earlier unveiled the new message of "stay alert, control the virus, save lives" in England - but Ms Sturgeon said it would not apply in Scotland at the moment.

Meanwhile, 269 people have died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths to 31,855.