Lockdown exit 1) Government battles backlash over lockdown easing plans

“The UK government sought to clarify its lockdown plans on Monday after Boris Johnson’s long-awaited announcement on the country’s strategy for dealing with coronavirus provoked a barrage of criticism that it was too confusing. Its 51-page document, “Our Plan to Rebuild”, set out a three-phased approach to easing the nationwide shutdown, beginning on Wednesday. The government has struggled to explain its exit strategy since Mr Johnson’s televised speech on Sunday evening, with confusion over how many people can meet outdoors under the revised lockdown guidelines, when businesses should return to work and a splintered approach from the devolved governments with the UK. Addressing the House of Commons, Mr Johnson urged the public to use “good, solid, British common sense” as the measures were gradually adjusted.” – FT

  • Johnson draws criticism over return to work guidance – FT
  • Use good solid British common sense, Johnson tells public – Daily Telegraph
  • Order to cover faces on public transport – The Times
  • Raab seeks to douse row over UK workplace guidance – FT
  • All primary school pupils back by ‘end of June’ – The Times
  • Classes to have 15-pupil limit – Daily Telegraph
  • Kids face school swap – Daily Mail
  • Four out of five Scottish deaths prevented ‘if lockdown had started two weeks earlier’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Wales to ‘police’ border – FT
  • No guarantee we will get a vaccine, says Vallance – The Times
  • Germans flout rules despite pleas to obey – The Times
  • Brits will be able to holiday in France – The Sun

Lockdown exit 2) See friends and family under new lockdown rules

“People will be able to play sport with a friend or family member from outside their household or socialise with them in the open air for the first time in more than six weeks, Boris Johnson said yesterday. From tomorrow anyone in England will be allowed one-to-one contact with people other than those they live with, as long as they remain outside and two metres apart, as the prime minister eases the Covid-19 lockdown. Some sporting facilities such as golf courses and tennis courts can also reopen as long as they conform to the revised rules, and outdoor activities will no longer be restricted to exercise.” – The Times

Lockdown exit 3) The Sun: Finally some clarity after a day of chaos

“Finally some clarity after a day of chaos triggered by Boris Johnson’s Sunday night address. The Government cannot afford to repeat such a shambles. “Stay home, save lives” was a simple and effective message. The next steps are far more nuanced. They did not need another vague Churchillian rallying call. That merely sowed confusion, even among the PM’s deputy Dominic Raab and the staunchest Tories, and exposed Boris to a tsunami of snark on TV and social media. It needed instead the level of detail we eventually saw in the Government’s guidance released yesterday afternoon — and then in Boris’s Commons Q&A. Supporters claimed the PM’s new “stay alert” message was merely common sense any fool could grasp. That misses the point.” – The Sun

Lockdown exit 4) Outdoor meetings just one of back-to-work guidelines

“Office workers should consider holding meetings outside, shop changing rooms should be cleaned after every user and takeaway customers should wait in their cars, under sweeping new back-to-work guidelines issued by the government on Monday. Companies across Britain will have to consult with their staff and union officials about how they will keep employees safe as they return to work amid the gradual lifting of lockdown measures. The guidelines give limited time to some firms as they plan to reopen as soon as this week. They range from urging office workers to sit back-to-back, rather than face-to-face, to limiting numbers in lifts and closing down canteens. Alok Sharma, the business secretary, said the guidance was pragmatic and would help firms to return their staff safely to work.” – The Guardian

Lockdown exit 5) Extend furlough scheme or face spiralling job losses, Sunak told

“The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has been urged to extend the coronavirus wage subsidy scheme until September to avoid spiralling job losses across Britain this summer. The Resolution Foundation said the extension would cost the exchequer as much as £48bn but would prevent a fresh surge in unemployment. After Boris Johnson announced on Sunday his blueprint for the gradual lifting of restrictions, industry groups warned it was incomplete without urgent details about the job retention scheme. Johnson told parliament on Monday that Sunak would announce details on the future of the furlough scheme on Tuesday. The chancellor is widely expected to announce the gradual wind-down of the scheme amid rising concern over its cost, which is roughly £14bn a month.” – The Guardian

  • Furlough scheme to be extended til September – The Sun
  • Johnson vows furlough scheme will help low paid as it winds down – The Times
  • ‘Furlough wages could be cut to 60%’ – Daily Mail

Lockdown exit 6) PM’s quarantine plan causes cabinet divisions

“Boris Johnson’s cabinet is divided over imposing a 14-day quarantine on most people arriving in the UK, with some ministers concerned the plans have not been fully thought through and would further damage the economy. The government gave further details of the proposed quarantine rules on Monday as part of its wider plan to ease the coronavirus lockdown. It would include exemptions to the quarantine rules for travellers arriving from some countries, with France and Ireland expected to be included. The border restriction will come into force at some point after May 13 and would require most arrivals to register contact and accommodation details. The government will make anyone arriving, who is unable to show proof of where they plan to self-isolate, stay in a designated quarantine centre.” – FT

  • Quarantine scheme ‘riddled with holes’ ministers told – The Times

Lockdown exit 7) Starmer accuses Johnson of giving no clear direction on lockdown easing…

“Keir Starmer accused the prime minister of failing to give the public “clear directions” on the way through the coronavirus crisis on Monday, as the government struggled to answer a barrage of questions about its new advice to “stay alert”. Boris Johnson was challenged by the Labour leader, MPs and members of the public over ambiguities and contradictions in the government’s new guidelines. Starmer has been broadly supportive of the government’s approach to dealing with the crisis – but he has stepped up his criticism in recent days, amid what Labour regards as mixed messages about the next steps. “What we needed from the prime minister last night was clarity and reassurance,” he said. “The prime minister said he was setting out a roadmap, but if we’re to complete the journey safely a roadmap needs clear directions.” – The Guardian


Hopes raised for end to crisis in care homes as death rates fall

“Two of the UK’s biggest care home operators have reported falling death rates from Covid-19, raising hopes that outbreaks which have devastated some of the most vulnerable and elderly people may finally be abating. The number of residents who have recovered from the virus has now eclipsed the numbers of deaths from it across 220 care settings operated by MHA, the largest charitable provider of homes, which by Monday had recorded 359 deaths in total. It said fatalities peaked around 22 April and have fallen gradually since. Meanwhile HC-One, the largest commercial operator which has lost 829 residents to confirmed or suspected Covid-19, said deaths had fallen from a peak of 31 a day on 19 April to four on Monday.” – The Guardian


Labour leader rules out Brexit extension

“Sir Keir Starmer rejected calls for the Brexit transition period to be extended, saying yesterday that he would rather that Boris Johnson completed the negotiations “as quickly as possible”. As the latest round of remote talks began again this week the Labour leader refused to join other opposition parties, including the SNP and the Lib Dems, who have demanded the government abandon its timetable. Instead Sir Keir said that while he didn’t see how it was practical to agree a deal by December, he nevertheless wanted to “see how we get on”. – The Times

  • MP rents taxpayer-funded flat to avoid six-mile commute – The Times
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