Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlines new Covid Alert System

Date published: 12 May 2020


The government is established a new ‘Covid Alert System’, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in his national address on Sunday 10 May.

There will be five alert levels, from Level One (the virus is no longer present in the UK) to Level Five (the most critical), determined by R (the reproduction rate) and the number of coronavirus cases.

Mr Johnson said: “Over the period of the lockdown we have been in Level Four, and it is thanks to your sacrifice we are now in a position to begin to move in steps to Level Three.

“And as we go everyone will have a role to play in keeping the R down, by staying alert and following the rules and to keep pushing the number of infections down there are two more things we must do.

“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.

“And if we are to control this virus, then we must have a world-beating system for testing potential victims, and for tracing their contacts.”

Mr Johnson continued: “This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week. Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.

“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.”

New guidance from the government has been issued for employers on making workplaces safe for staff during the coronavirus outbreak.

From this Wednesday, the government wants to encourage people to take more outdoor exercise, saying that you can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can play sports – but only with members of your own household.

Two people from different households will be able to meet in outdoor settings - such as parks - as long as they stay more than 2m (6ft) apart.

Mr Johnson said: “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.

“And so every day, with ever increasing data, we will be monitoring the R and the number of new infections, and the progress we are making, and if we as a nation begin to fulfil the conditions I have set out, then in the next few weeks and months we may be able to go further.

“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 re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing.”

Responding to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address on the road map for reopening society, Councillor James Jamieson, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “It is encouraging that we are now moving into the next phase of tackling this virus and we look forward to seeing more details on the government’s plan.

“During this pandemic, councils’ role as leaders of place has been more important than ever before. They will continue to lead their communities through this crisis as we adapt to this new way of life, working day and night to protect the most vulnerable, help local businesses, keep important services running and support national efforts to defeat this disease.

“The scale of the economic, environmental and community challenges that we will face cannot be under-estimated. Communities will need to keep sticking together through this crisis and follow the government’s plan and social distancing rules to ensure people are not put at risk unnecessarily.” 

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