Britain Enters Post-coronavirus Period Monday

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson emphasized that Britain is not ending the lockdown but only modifying tough measures that had been imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.   In a televised address Sunday from his official London residence, Johnson announced three tentative steps toward reopening of the country. In Step 1, which starts Monday, people who cannot work from home, like construction workers or manufacturers, should be actively encouraged to go to work, but in a safe manner. That means, he said, that people should avoid public transportation and go to work by car, by bicycle or on foot.Johnson said the government has issued guidance to employers on how to make workplaces secure, including for public transport workers. Those measures will limit the capacity of the public transport.As of Wednesday, Johnson said people will be encouraged to go out and sit in the sun or exercise. They can drive out of town and even play group sports, but only with members of their own family.“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,” he said.People cycle through Westminster area of London, Sunday, May 10, 2020 during the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown.Johnson is the only world leader to have been hospitalized and treated for COVID, including having to spend a few days in intensive care.  Late Sunday, Bloomberg News reported that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is self-isolating after one of his aides was diagnosed with the coronavirus. So far, the vice president has tested negative for the virus.An increase in infectionsSome countries that have relaxed their coronavirus measures, such as Germany and South Korea, have seen an increase in new infections after reopening.The British prime minister said the government will be monitoring the number of new infections and the progress made in containing the virus.He said if the conditions the government has set out are fulfilled, then in the next few weeks or months the country may be able to move to Step 2 on or around June 1.“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.”   A man looks at the menu of a closed Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, in London, May 9, 2020.Johnson said the goal is to get the secondary school students facing exams next year to have at least some time with their teachers before the holidays. He said a detailed guidance for this phase is upcoming.Step 3 of Johnson’s blueprint is planned for July at the earliest and is subject to the fulfillment of the conditions from the first two steps, as well as scientific recommendations. The British leader said in that phase some of the hospitality industry and public places would reopen “if and only if the numbers support it.” Social distancing and other protective measures will still apply, he stressed, in order to avoid a new wave of infections. Mixed reactionsJohnson’s decision to modify the “stay at home” message to “stay alert” message has met with approval as well as criticism, notably from trade unions and regional leaders of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said the message on recreation is too vague and she ordered the Scottish people to refrain from sunbathing, picnicking or barbecuing in public spaces until further notice. But walking and outdoor exercising will be allowed more than once a day starting Monday.With more than 220,000 COVID-19 cases, Britain is the world’s third most affected country after the United States and Spain. Britain’s coronavirus-linked death toll is close to 32,000 and is second only to the United States, which has more than 80,000 deaths. Britain has reported nearly 4,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.

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