New lockdown rules: What you can and can’t do explained as vulnerable people allowed out from Monday – The Sun

BORIS Johnson has announced we will be able to meet up to six people at a time from Monday, as long as we're outdoors and maintain social distancing.

But what other lockdown rules have been tweaked? Here's everything you can – and can't – do with the new lockdown rules.

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What can I do with the new lockdown rules?

Friends and family

In England, from Monday, June 1, you can meet up to six people at a time – as long as you're two metres apart and outside.

This includes in parks and private gardens.

You can walk through someone's house to get to their garden – but don't spend prolonged periods of time inside.

You can use the loo – but be sure to wash your hands and wipe down any surfaces you have used.


On June 1, reception, years one and six will also head back to school in England

From June 15, secondary school teachers will be able to have face-to-face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils who have exams next year.


If you can work from home, then you should do so.

But if you can't work from home – for instance if you work in a factory, then it's fine to go into work – as long as social distancing is maintained, says No10.

It's important to communicate with your employer and understand what new measures will be in place to keep you safe.

If you need to work in someone else's home, for instance if you're a plumber or a childminder, it's also fine for you to return.

You must follow hygiene and social distancing rules.

Work should not be carried out in the home of someone who is shielding.

You should also try to avoid taking public transport to work if possible – the best thing to do is cycle or walk if you can.


All non-essential shops can open again from June 15 – as long as social distancing measures are in place.

From June 1, outdoor markets and car showrooms can open too.

Garden centres have reopened and DIY shops are also up and running.

Supermarkets and chemists have remained open throughout lockdown as they were deemed essential.

Outside exercise

There were no rule changes to the amount of outside exercise you can do – you're allowed out for unlimited walks, runs and workouts daily.

But you still need to follow social distancing rules.

Clinically extremely vulnerable

It was revealed on May 30 that the 2.2 million people shielding because they are clinically extremely vulnerable will be able to leave their homes for the first time in weeks from Monday.

These people will be able to go outside with those from their own household, but not meat anyone else – except for those that live alone who can meet one other person but still social distance.

What can't I do with the new lockdown rules?


You still can't get your hair cut, unfortunately.

There aren't any dates for when salons are set to reopen – but Health Secretary Matt Hancock has sparked hopes weird lockdown haircuts could be sorted soon, by saying the idea of reopening hairdressers wasn't "insurmountable".


There are still no plans to reopen gyms yet, although Brits are allowed unlimited outside exercise.

Experts have suggested the benefits of exercise outweigh the risk, and say gyms should reopen.


The Foreign Office's advice is still to refrain from all but essential travel – including in and out of the UK.

A 14-day quarantine period for people arriving into the UK is set to be implemented "as soon as possible," according to the Government.

Several resorts across Europe, including in Greece and Spain have reopened – but Brits are banned from visiting for a period of time.

The Sun's travel editor, Lisa Minot, also answered FAQs about summer hols.

You also should not travel from England to Wales or Scotland for a holiday.


Unfortunately, there are still no solid plans for pubs to reopen.

However, talks between pub bosses and No 10 suggest they could reopen in June.

An initial timescale suggested July, but the PM suggested experts are close to a solution to halting the coronavirus spread in bars, which would bring the reopening date forward..

The same goes for restaurants – although the majority of eateries have remained open for takeaway during lockdown or have already opened.

Why are the rules different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Leaders of the devolved nations are handling lockdown slightly differently to the PM, although all four governments have stressed the lockdown across the UK will be lifted together.

For instance, in Scotland, groups of up to eight pals can meet from Monday – but social distancing and hygeine measures must be observed.

In Wales the rules don't give a number – but say from Monday two different households can meet.

In Northern Ireland, socially distanced meet ups are allowed in groups of four to six.

The Welsh government has also made it clear schools won't be returning on June 1.

In Wales you shouldn't go to the beach, whereas in Eng;and this is allowed.

And in Northern Ireland, schools are hoping for a phased return in September.

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I'm in lockdown with my husband & our girlfriend – we all sleep in one bed & the sex is great… my man's a 'machine'

A COUPLE told how they intend to 'marry' their joint girlfriend of two years in lockdown – on their 17th wedding anniversary.

Stay-at-home husband Jon Kaufman, 45, and midwife wife Melanie Kaufman, 41, plan to tie the knot with shared girlfriend Judy Bame, 36, on May 24 in their back garden.

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The ‘throuple’, who’ve lived together outside Denver, Colorado, for a year-and-a-half, met 11 years ago while playing roller derby and realised they had instant chemistry. 

But at the time, marketing manager Judy was with another man. 

So it wasn’t until 2018 that they could get together, and they eventually confessed their true feelings.

Now their relationship is strong – and the sex is amazing.

They share a bed, with Jon sleeping in the middle

“The sex is far above average,” said Melanie. “There's more to touch, more to look at, and more sensations to experience. Plus, Jon has to be quite a machine to satisfy two women every time.

“We're also very open with our bodies and our interests, which leads to a very fulfilling sex life. 

“We make every reasonable effort to include all three of us every time, but if that's not possible, there's no jealousy as long as it's inside our relationship. 

“Some throuples have open relationships, but we're a closed triad and we view ourselves as like a regular couple, just with more people.”

Their relationship became official when Judy – having split with her boyfriend – found herself living back in Colorado and looking Jon and Melanie up in her contacts.

She said: “When we met up after all those years, it was immediately apparent that our feelings were the same that they had always been, only now without complications. 

“The transition to a throuple was very natural and organic. This type of relationship happens much like any other with all of the tingles and eager anticipation. Since then, we've been inseparable.”

The sex is far above average. There's more to touch, more to look at, and more sensations to experience.

Melanie’s parents support their relationship, but unfortunately neither Jon or Judy’s do. “It has been very hard to feel like we're choosing between our relationship and our parents,” the pair said.

Meanwhile, friends' reactions have been mixed.

Jon explained: “We have a very supportive friendship group including another throuple.

“However the number of close friends that we keep is very small. 

“Other friends we have known for years have become quiet and distant since we've been public about our relationship. None of those old friends have confronted us or been negative, but they don't treat us the same way either.

"We've since curated our friendships to only those that have positive feelings about us as a triad.”

The throuple joked lockdown was an ‘improvement’ to their normal life.

The ladies jointly said: “Jon’s always at home and now his ladies get to spend more time at home as well.”

Jon added: “Judy is on leave for the foreseeable future and stays home with me. Melanie, as a healthcare provider, has had her daily life rocked the hardest. Her schedule changes on a daily basis and she's having to give some prenatal visits over the phone now.

"At one point, Melanie's clinic was closed for two weeks due to two employees testing positive for COVID-19 and she had to work from home, which was a huge change.

“We haven't ventured out of the house too many times, just for groceries and other necessities. 

“It also helps that we bought a hot tub right before quarantine, so we've kind of turned our home into its own resort.”

Melanie, Jon and Judy were planning to 'marry' at a hot springs resort in the mountains of Colorado and honeymoon in St Lucia. 

“But now, we're scrapping all our plans and having a small backyard wedding instead.”

Unfortunately, as no Western country permits statutory marriage between more than two people, the wedding won’t be legally binding.

“But what we can do is set up our relationship like a business, since there are more legal protections that way,” Melanie said.

Jon has to be quite a machine to satisfy two women every time.

“We won't receive the same innate government privileges and protections as married couples and will have to take extra steps to legally safeguard our relationship. 

“When we first defined our relationship in the summer of 2018, we felt like we were in uncharted territory and would often wonder, ‘Are they looking at us?’ when we went out together. 

“But seeeing other throuples, quads, and all the possible polyamorous combinations representing themselves online really helped reassure us that while we're different, we're also valid. 

“Growing up with monogamy as the only option, it has taken self-growth to unlearn those old restrictions, but doing so has led to an amazing experience.

“Going from a monogamous relationship to a throuple is incredibly rewarding, but also requires extra effort and attention. 

“We get many questions from people interested in opening up their marriage.

"What you need to know is that everything is exponentially multiplied with each person you add to the relationship. You have more people to care for you, and also to care for. 

“It requires a constant stream of love and communication for everyone involved. Polyamory/polygamy isn't for everyone, but it is a valid lifestyle and one that can be overwhelmingly amazing.”

These three aren't the only racy lot…. meet the couple who won’t stop swinging now they are married – and even enjoyed a four-way sex session on their honeymoon.

In more sex news a woman claims she has sex with ELVES… and they know exactly what you want in bed without asking.

And a great-granny, 91, gushes about her "wonderful" sex life with a 31-year-old toyboy.

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Lockdown ‘panic virus’ among world leaders cost more lives than it saved, claims Nobel Prize scientist – The Sun

LOCKDOWN cost more lives than it saved – and the UK's death toll was overestimated by some "10 or 12 times" by the academic who flouted the restrictions to meet his married lover, a Nobel laureate scientist says.

Michael Levitt, a Stanford University professor, says the country will emerge from Covid-19 within just weeks.

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He sent messages to Prof Neil Ferguson in March to tell the Government adviser he had hugely overestimated the country's death toll, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

Prof Ferguson's projections were a major factor in the country going into lockdown, although in early May, he stepped down from his role with advisory board Sage after it was discovered he had met his girlfriend at least twice in late March and April.

Prof Levitt, who shared the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2013, says the lockdown was a "panic virus" that "saved no lives".

Instead, he believed Brits should have been encouraged to wear masks and keep to social distancing guidelines.


"I think it may have cost lives," he said.

"It will have saved a few road accident lives, things like that, but social damage – domestic abuse, divorces, alcoholism – has been extreme.

"And then you have those who were not treated for other conditions."

Prof Levitt – who has no background as an epidemiologist – assessed the initial Covid-19 outbreak in China and on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

He said in mid-March that the UK would lose some 50,000 lives.

Prof Ferguson's modelling concluded 500,000 lives could be lost.

Prof Levitt said: "I think that the real virus was the panic virus.


"For reasons that were not clear to me, I think the leaders panicked and the people panicked. There was a huge lack of discussion."

The 73-year-old predicted that most countries would suffer a coronavirus death rate worth around an extra month in excess deaths over a year.

"In Europe, I don't think that anything actually stopped the virus other than some kind of burnout," he added.

"There's a huge number of people who are asymptomatic so, I would imagine by the time lockdown was finally introduced in the UK, the virus was already widely spread.

"They could have just stayed open like Sweden by that stage and nothing would have happened."
He called lockdown a "blunt and medieval weapon".

"I think the lockdown will cause much, much more damage than the deaths saved," he said.

"The problem with epidemiologists is that they feel their job is to frighten people into lockdown.

"So you say 'there's going to be a million deaths' and when there are only 25,000 you say 'it's good you listened to my advice'."


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Cardi B Shows Off Giant Lockdown Tattoo on Her Back

The ‘Bodak Yellow’ femcee has debuted her new body ink in-progress that she has tattooed on her back during the lockdown amid ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

AceShowbiz -Rapper Cardi B has been busy inking a giant butterfly tattoo on her back amid COVID-19 self-isolation.

The “Press” hitmaker showed off her colourful new marking online on her Instagram Stories profile, noting the tattooist, California based Jamie Schene, has been crafting the unfinished piece.

“You guys can see my tatt, almost done. Two more sessions!” Cardi said in the footage which saw the star show off the colourful tattoo featuring roses, other bright flowers and a monarch butterfly.

Cardi, real name Belcalis Almanzar, already has plenty of tattoos across her body, including the name of her husband, Migos rapper Offset, on her thigh.

The Money MC isn’t the only star getting inked during self-isolation. Paris Jackson has also shared videos on social media of a new marking on her foot she inked during coronavirus lockdown.

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I'm trapped in lockdown with my conspiracy theorist parents

Imagine waking up every morning to the blasting sounds of David Icke screaming about the world ending through your bedroom walls. 

It’s been my life since I started shielding in early March. My mum listens to the famous conspiracy theorist on full blast every day; he is her gospel. 

When I greet them face to face over breakfast, I’m told I should be measuring out my portions exactly ‘so we don’t run out of food in case the world ends’. 

Both of my parents have been conspiracy theorists since I was born. When I was very young, they kept that side of their life away from me. 

But then, several years ago, my father went to see my mother’s idol live. David Icke is an ex-footballer, turned presenter, turned conspiracy theorist. My dad left enlightened, parroting Icke’s theories and convinced Bill Clinton is a lizard. 

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It was just before I started high school when they started to tell me all about overlords, that the royal family are reptiles, and the impending apocalypse. They were my parents, so I assumed they were telling the truth. It wasn’t until I started repeating some of the stuff they said at school that I realised how wrong they were. 

I’m ashamed now to admit I espoused my parents’ extreme views and the derogatory comments I had heard about certain groups without any understanding of what they really meant. As soon as I uttered the words – things I don’t want to repeat, given how vile they were – I was put into my first and only school detention. It was a wake up call that what I was saying wasn’t normal and my worldview changed in an instant. 

I have blocked out so much of my childhood but the decision to move back in with them during lockdown was still a hard one to make. My new flat was unfurnished and, with my flatmates gone home for lockdown, I was scared of the impact loneliness would have on my mental health. 

Largely, though, it was because I have a serious health condition that I rely on medication to manage. As I am shielding, I knew I would need someone else to collect my food and prescription while I stayed indoors.  

As time goes on, I no longer think it was the right decision. 

Every day I am met with lectures about how doctors are killing patients with prior health conditions on purpose by forcing them on ventilators unnecessarily, just so they can put Covid-19 on the death certificate. Although I know it’s nonsense, it’s distressing to hear this theory every day as someone with a health condition. I’m also terrified of telling my parents if I do feel sick in the fear that they won’t seek help for me, as they now distrust medical professionals. 

The new coronavirus angle on their usual conspiracy theories arose when the mass hysteria around 5G masts took hold. Up until then it had just been the usual lizard and sacrificing babies chat. 

When my dad met my first girlfriend, he sat her down and said he could prove the moon landing was fake

First, my mother’s computer died. To her, the most rational explanation involved a supposed 5G mast in our street. Not only did that not make sense, there is no 5G near us as we live in the middle of nowhere.

In April, 77 5G masts were destroyed, which shows that my dad isn’t alone in his thinking. 

Since then, I’ve heard from my parents that the virus is both completely fake, and that it’s also the beginning of the apocalypse. I have listened to every possible thesis they have regurgitated from other conspiracy theorists that they’ve read and seen online. Their social media profiles are now echo chambers, where they blast their ideas and are surrounded by others doing the same.

I’ve tried to disagree with them, citing actual experts to use logic to prove them wrong. They are so convinced they are right, and the arguments get so heated, that I have learned to block them out over the years. 

I’ve put off discussing anything that could get them riled up. A good grade in a difficult exam would become a lecture on how I’m just being indoctrinated into a system of oppression. A successful job interview became a lecture on how I’m a slave to mainstream society. Graduating university meant I was a ‘trained animal, ready to repeat any information’. 

During lockdown, they’ve become harder to cope with. It’s harder to cut myself off from their delusions. They have bulk bought tinned food, real gas masks and created survival drills for when my medication runs out. They’ve told me they do these to protect me ‘from officials breaking in and taking me from the house’. 

I am incredibly grateful to my parents for caring for me during the lockdown, but it has reached a level that I cannot deal with. 

At the beginning I didn’t understand why people would break lockdown, but now I know that anyone else in my situation may feel they have no choice not to. At the minute, it is only my health condition keeping me put. 

I’m lucky I own a pair of noise cancelling headphones for when I’m in my old room. 

I can only imagine what the local villagers think when they cross paths with my father, as he tells them the world is ending, the internet will be switched off in mere days and celebrities are sending satanic messages through social media. 

I used to be embarrassed, but I’ve adapted. There have been a few instances where I couldn’t help but cringe – like when my dad met my first girlfriend and insisted the moon landing was fake and he had proof. At least now they are also trapped indoors. 

For now, I must stay put; I have no choice. I hope each person appreciates the cold wind passing through their arms and the ground beneath their feet during their daily walk. 

I promise, once this is done, I will be taking a hike back home to London and to my worried girlfriend. I will have a glass of champagne in one hand, and a burning copy of a David Icke book in the other.

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One in three small businesses say they might never reopen after lockdown

ONE in three small business owners who have been forced to close their companies because of the coronavirus pandemic say they may never reopen.

Firms have struggled to pay their rent and have had to shelve expansion plans, according to a survey carried out by the Federation of Small Business (FSB).

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Of the 5,000 companies surveyed, four in ten said they had been forced to close since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, and of those, 35 per cent were not sure whether they would ever reopen again.

A quarter of the companies were struggling to pay their rent or mortgage on their premises.

And similar number had been forced to shelve product development plans.

Many firms had accessed help provided by the government, including the job retention scheme, which allows employers to furlough members of staff with 80 per cent of their wages.

Around 70 per cent of bosses surveyed by the FSB had furloughed staff to help their businesses survive.

But many said they were concerned about the process of returning to work.

The government suggested this week that anyone who cannot work from home should consider going back in.

Businesses that must remain closed

WHILE the Government is encouraging some to return to work, it says the following businesses and venues are required by law to stay closed to the public:

  • Restaurants and cafes, other than for takeaway
  • Pubs, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs
  • Clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets not selling food
  • Libraries, community centres, and youth centres
  • Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, gyms, arcades and soft play facilities – although outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and bowling greens, will be allowed to reopen from May 13
  • Some communal places within parks, such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms
  • Places of worship (except for funerals)
  • Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use, excluding use by those who live in them permanently, those who are unable to return home and critical workers where they need to for work

Food retailers, food markets, and hardware stores can remain open, while garden centres and certain other retailers can reopen from May 13.

But three quarters of the businesses who had already furloughed staff said they were keen to partially furlough workers in the future so that people could come back part time.

And half said they would like to bring employees back gradually.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the FSB, said: “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt right across the small business community, with thousands of small firms all over the UK fearing for their futures.”

He praised the government for “stepping up” with help in the form of the job retention scheme, cash grants and business rate breaks.

But he said: “Policymakers now need to realise that the economy will not go from zero to a hundred overnight once we’re into the recovery phase. 

“The crucial support that’s on offer needs to be kept under review, and adapted to reflect the new normal as we chart a course back to economic recovery.”


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Close to one in ten business owners have applied for Universal Credit since the lockdown began.

But almost a third of those have had their applications rejected, the survey revealed.

Many have also been locked out of the government’s scheme to help self-employed people, because they are directors of limited companies.

This means they do not qualify under the scheme.

Mr Cherry added: “Policymakers need to be in listening mode and prepared to help the most vulnerable over the challenging months ahead. 

“No one should be left behind.”

Small businesses can apply for grants of up to £25,000 to help cover trading losses due to coronavirus.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on Tuesday that the furlough scheme would be extended until October.

Construction and food production workers are among those who have been told they can return to work.

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Lockdown could last into JUNE admit ministers

Boris Johnson ‘will keep Britain in lockdown until at least June’: PM vows to proceed with ‘baby steps’ amid fears care home outbreaks have scuppered recovery ahead of crucial address to the nation on Sunday

  • Boris Johnson will only announce modest easing of restrictions with lockdown possibly remaining until June 
  • The Prime Minister told the cabinet he will proceed with ‘maximum caution’ before easing the lockdown 
  • He is set to address the nation at 7pm Sunday and announce a ‘roadmap’ on lifting the coronavirus lockdown
  • However, there are fears that any significant changes could lead to another wave of coronavirus infections 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Britain could remain under strict lockdown measures until June, minister admitted last night, with Boris Johnson set to announce only a ‘small and modest’ easing of restrictions on Sunday evening. 

The Prime Minister told the cabinet he will proceed with ‘maximum caution’ when it comes to lifting restrictions, after experts warned that outbreaks in care homes and hospitals make significant easing far too dangerous.

Mr Johnson is set to address the nation at 7pm on Sunday and is expected to announce that people will be allowed unlimited exercise from Monday. 

Churches, mosques and other places of worship will also likely be allowed to open – but only for private prayer and not for group ceremonies. 

Garden centres may be allowed to open – though allowing people to mix with other households in unlikely to be authorised until much later.  

Mr Johnson is being urged by cabinet ministers and political opponents to spell out specific dates on when different elements of lockdown will be eased. 

However, he is expected to announce only modest changes, with warnings that the actual rate of new daily coronavirus cases could be 20,000 and not the around 5,000 reported officially by the government, with 400,000 people in total having had it. 

‘It is baby steps taken slowly and only when it’s clear they can be taken,’ an ally familiar with the plans told the Times. 

They will be finalised today and tomorrow before the Prime Minister addresses the nation on Sunday. 

Mr Johnson will tell the public that progress through the ‘roadmap’ of easing conditions is dependent on a reduction of coronavirus infections. 

Presently the ‘R number’ – the rate at which the virus is spreading – is between 0.5 and 0.9 across Britain, the Downing Street press conference was told last night. That would indicate the disease is currently under control.

But there are fears that in care homes that number is above 1, meaning the outbreak there is still growing exponentially, with each infected person in turn passing it on to more than one other.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to light a candle at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey yesterday as Britain prepared to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of V-E Day

Mr Johnson is caught in a struggle between those who want him to move faster to end the lockdown and those who fear it would trigger a second wave of coronavirus. 

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon threatened to break the UK-wide approach, saying any watering down of the ‘Stay Home’ message would be a ‘potentially catastrophic mistake’.

But, with the Bank of England warning that the restrictions have sparked the deepest recession for 300 years, some Tory MPs are urging Mr Johnson to act swiftly to prevent an economic depression they say could scar a generation.

Experts claimed today that as many as 400,000 people in Britain have caught coronavirus and 20,000 citizens are being infected each day.

Care home experts fear the ongoing crisis tearing through old people’s homes has also driven up the country’s rate of infection, or R, the rate at which each person will go on to infect another, to a high of 0.9.

According to preliminary data from the Office of National Statistics, the illness has been detected in between 0.2 and 0.6 per cent of the population, which translates to around 400,000 people.

Trying to start contact tracing while the disease is still spreading so rapidly would be ‘impossible’ and there is still a ‘big problem’ in care homes.

These warnings mean that previously mooted easings, such as allowing people from other households to mix with each other, are being shelved for the time being.   

‘How do you enforce it?’ a government source asked. ‘It could easily lead to a spike in transmission if it goes wrong.’

A much higher daily rate of infections also makes it difficult for the government to move onto the next stage of its plan to trace and isolate known cases of the virus.    

Boris Johnson will not announce the ‘exit strategy’ – which is expected to include a five-point plan for easing lockdown – until Sunday

Professor John Edmunds of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who sits on the government’s Sage committee of advisers, has warned that the current level of cases made it ‘probably impossible’ to control the epidemic through contact tracing. 

Boris Johnson’s five stage plan to reopen Britain 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reveal his lockdown exit plan on Sunday after most people in Britain have spent more than six weeks at home to help fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposals are to be split into five stages over the coming months, and a leaked version of the plan has suggested the first changes on Monday will see garden centres allowed to open and unlimited exercise allowed.

There will also be a return to sunbathing and picnics, more key workers’ children will go back to school, staff will start returning to businesses that stayed open during the lockdown and open-air markets may reopen.

The second stage at the end of May will then see primary schools gradually return with smaller classes and some outdoor sports such as golf and tennis potentially resuming – possibly along with open-air swimming.

Premier League football could return behind closed doors towards the end of June, secondary schools will reopen before the summer holidays and outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people are expected to be allowed.

Cafes could also reopen, before pubs and restaurants follow towards the end of August – although it may take until October for all remaining areas of the economy including gyms to remove their shutters.

However, he also added: ‘The lockdown has worked, breaking chains of transmission in the community. But what’s left is a series of outbreaks in care homes and hospitals up and down the country that are on-going.’

Other scientists also warned that the R had risen to just below 1 – the rate at which cases of the virus will start to grow again. 

The chief statistician at the Office for National Statistics said in today’s Downing Street briefing that both the R and the number of infectious people must come down together.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond said he ‘would not demur’ from the estimate that the R had gone up in recent weeks.

He said: ‘It is important to recognise that the R number itself is only relevant if you look also at the context of the prevalence. 

‘I think we need to look at the two together to properly understand where we are… we need certainly to get on top of the epidemic in care homes and in hospitals.’

He said that, if the R was 1, the number of cases would flatline because no more than one person would catch the virus at a time but the number would also not decline.

The extent to which Mr Johnson sets out dates by which measures could be relaxed remains ‘a live issue’, senior figures admitted last night. 

Ministers are worried that advance reports of the changes, on top of the good weather, will tempt people to flock to parks and other public spaces this weekend before bans are lifted. 

Whitehall sources have told the Mail that the sunbathing ban is likely to be among the first measures dropped, with people allowed to do so as long as they stick to social distancing rules. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed last night that the lockdown, which has been in place since March 23, would continue for another three weeks

Nicola Sturgeon laid into Boris Johnson over plans to ease lockdown yesterday – warning that ditching ‘stay at home’ guidance at this point would be ‘catastrophic’

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said: ‘It looks like we could be going into a bank holiday weekend with a very good weather forecast and I would just urge caution. 

‘The best way still to manage the virus is to follow the guidelines and stay at home.’

Mr Johnson told the Cabinet yesterday that keeping the coronavirus epidemic under control remained the top priority. He said: ‘We are not going to do anything that risks a second peak. We will advance with maximum caution in order to protect the NHS and to save lives… we will not hesitate to tighten the rules if required.’

Testing slump blamed on ‘technical issue’ as Starmer says lockdown must remain in place 

A Cabinet minister blamed a massive slump in coronavirus testing in the last few days on ‘a bit of an issue at the labs’ today amid mounting criticism of falling numbers.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said ‘a technical issue’ was behind a 43 per cent fall in completed daily tests between last Thursday and yesterday.

His comments came after it was revealed last night that 69,463 took place in the 24 hours to 9am that day, raising concerns over the progress of the testing regime.

The figure is just 57 per cent of the 122,327 tests that Matt Hancock boasted had been carried out on Thursday to meet his pledge of 100,000 tests conducted per day by the end of April. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned this morning that the lockdown should not be lifted until ‘many, many more tests’ could be done.

Mr Lewis told Sky News today: ‘There has been a bit of an issue at the labs, there’s been a technical issue. 

‘That’s not surprising with a completely new test and a new diagnostics system we’ve put in place. 

‘But that technical issue is now dealt with so we’ll see that capacity and demand levels coming up.

‘But the capacity has remained over demand and above 100,000.’ 

Downing Street confirmed earlier that the PM will unveil plans on Sunday night for a gradual easing of the lockdown. 

This will include ditching the Government’s ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ slogan in favour of a less restrictive message and a more relaxed approach to outdoor activities such as public sunbathing and picnics.

However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed last night that the lockdown, which has been in place since March 23, would continue for another three weeks.

He urged the public to stick to the rules despite the sunny bank holiday weather – which could see temperatures hit 25C (77F) in the South East.

Speaking at the daily No 10 briefing, he said any changes would be ‘modest, small, incremental and very carefully monitored’. And he warned they could be reversed if the virus starts to take off again, adding: ‘The point at which we make even the smallest of changes to the current guidance will be a point of maximum risk.’

International media lined up to savage Britain’s coronavirus response yesterday, describing the UK as the ‘problem child of Europe’ and calling Number 10’s response ‘the biggest failure in a generation’.

And Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon laid into the Prime Minister over plans to ease lockdown, which will be announced on Sunday evening, warning that ditching ‘stay at home’ guidance at this point would be ‘catastrophic’.

The latest figures from the Department of Health show that a total of 30,615 people had died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community as of 5pm on Wednesday.

NHS England confirmed 383 more people had died in its hospitals between March 19 and May 6, aged between 28 and 100 years old.

The 28-year-old patient had no other health problems before they were diagnosed with the coronavirus, it said.

Scotland, meanwhile, announced a further 59 fatalities, and 18 more people died in Wales along with four in Northern Ireland.  

Testing slumped for the fifth day in a row since the goal of 100,000 was met last Thursday, with 86,583 tests conducted on May 6, up from 69,463 on Tuesday. 

Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, claimed this evening this was due to a ‘technical glitch’ in laboratories at the weekend which has now resolved.

Mr Raab said: ‘We have got the latest data from Sage. We have come through the peak, but it’s a very delicate and, I have said before, a very dangerous moment, so we do need to proceed with caution.’

Exclusive research for MailOnline shows 62 per cent are more worried about the effects of the draconian curbs ending too early, while 38 per cent say their main concern is the havoc they are wreaking on the economy now

More than three quarters said they would be behind bus drivers who made the ‘personal decision’ to stay off because of safety fears, with just 16 per cent saying they would not support them

Six in 10 thought the government should continue to subsidise some of the wages of workers who declined to go back, against just 24 per cent who said they would not favour such a move

Nearly two-thirds of those pollled said that parents who refuse to send their children back to school should not face fines 

He warned ‘we’ve definitely got a challenge in care homes’, saying: ‘The CQC data that came out, I think yesterday, showed that overall in care homes the number of deaths was down by over 300 on the last week, so that’s positive, but there’s still a very significant issue in care homes.’

After the cumulative death toll reached 30,000 on Wednesday, countries across the world have rallied to criticise the UK for its response to the pandemic.

Newspapers around the world are pointing the finger at Britain’s handling of the crisis as a ‘problem child’, not only from countries such as Germany and Australia which have been widely praised for their handling of the virus, but even from nations such as Italy and the United States where the crisis has been equally severe.

UK faces worst recession in 300 years, warns Bank of England 

UK GDP will slump by 14 per cent this year as coronavirus inflicts the worst recession for three centuries, the Bank of England warned today.

In a grim assessment, the Bank said the economy could shrink by nearly 30 per cent in the first half of this year before recovering some ground.

But the impact of the deadly disease will continue to be felt long afterwards. Unemployment could hit 9 per cent before falling back again. 

The overall 14 per cent fall in output estimated for 2020 would be the biggest recession for more than 300 years. 

The Bank says it believes there was a 3 per cent contraction in the first quarter, and sees GDP plummeting by an incredible 25 per cent in the current three month period, before finally clawing back some ground. 

Announcing that interest rates have been kept on hold at a record low of 0.1 per cent, Governor Andrew Bailey said it was acting to ease the effects as much as possible and tried to strike a more optimistic tone by saying there would be limited economic ‘scarring’.  

But in another bleak sign this morning, former Chancellor Alistair Darling warned that the Bank might be too optimistic about the prospects for a quick recovery. 

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a feature about Britain under the headline: ‘Biggest failure in a generation: Where did Britain go wrong?’ describing a ‘growing chorus’ of experts and members of the public who regarded the UK response as a ‘series of deadly mistakes and miscalculations’. 

Meanwhile, millions of pieces of personal protective equipment in the UK’s stockpile were out of date when coronavirus hit – with the thousands more that were hurriedly bought in from a Turkish T-shirt salesman now declared ‘useless’.  

Some 200 million articles of PPE had all expired from the national inventory before January 2020, according to stock lists seen by a Channel 4 News investigation.       

When coronavirus hit the UK 80% of respirators in the national inventory had expired – 20.9 million respirators from a total of 26.3 million, according to the report.

The discovery suggests a failure on the part of Public Health England and NHS supply chain management firm, Supply Chain Coordination Limited.   

Faced with a shortage and unable to secure PPE from Chinese suppliers British government turned to alternative sources – ordering thousands of gowns from a two-month-old T-shirt and tracksuit manufacturing company.  

Mehmet Duzen, a former parliamentary candidate and textiles producer, proposed his Istanbul-based company, Selegna Tekstil, as the answer to the UK government’s PPE crisis after seeing an appeal for supplies, reports The Daily Telegraph. 

In an email sent to the Department of Health and Social Care in mid-March Mr Duzen offered to manufacture 400,000 hospital gowns for UK hospitals – which were to be flown to Britain just weeks later.  

Now The Daily Telegraph has revealed that thousands of the gowns sit unused in a Heathrow facility after it was found they would not protect wearers from coronavirus.

The company, which was founded by Mr Duzen’s sister Naile on January 31, had been producing T-shirts and tracksuits before it made the jump to ‘high-grade medical wear’. 

But three weeks after the deal was struck pictures of a Royal Air Force plane waiting to be loaded with the supplies at an Istanbul airport raised questions over the efficiency of the delivery. 

The discovery suggests a failure on the part of Public Health England and NHS supply chain management firm, Supply Chain Coordination Limited

Mehmet Duzen, a former parliamentary candidate and textiles producer, proposed his Istanbul-based company, Selegna Tekstil, as the answer to the UK government’s PPE crisis

On Saturday April 19 the UK’s Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced the shipment would be arriving the next day.

However the delivery, thought to have cost £300,000, was delayed as Selenga failed to secure an export licence before eventually being delivered days later. British inspectors have since dubbed them ‘useless’. 

Senior MPs last night called for an investigation into the mission, dubbed ‘Air Jenrick’.           

Throughout 2019, hundreds of millions of PPE items reached their expiry date. 

The timing of public procurement contracts suggests attempts by Public Health England and Supply Chain Coordination Limited to renew them failed to stop a tide of expiration, arguably reducing the UK’s ability to react to coronavirus.

Detailed stock lists showing the state of the stockpile on January 30 show around 200 million respirators, face masks, medical syringes and needles were deemed out of date eight months prior. 

Official guidance states: ‘Most respirators have a limited shelf life, after which they are intended to be discarded. The longer a respirator is stored beyond its shelf life, or stored outside the recommended conditions, the less likely it is to perform at its full potential.’ 

400,000 people in Britain have caught coronavirus, 20,000 are infected every day and the R number has been driven up to 0.9 by care home crisis, say experts

As many as 400,000 people in Britain have caught the coronavirus and 20,000 citizens are being infected each day, experts claimed today. 

Care home experts fear the ongoing crisis tearing through old people’s homes has also driven up the country’s reproduction number, the rate at which each person will go on to infect another, to a high of 0.9.  

According to preliminary data from the Office of National Statistics, the illness has been detected in between 0.2 and 0.6 per cent of the population, which translates to around 400,000 people.   

Trying to start contact tracing while the disease is still spreading so rapidly would be ‘impossible’ and there is still a ‘big problem’ in care homes.

There were 5,614 people officially diagnosed with COVID-19 yesterday and there have been a total 35,000 cases confirmed in the last seven days. But scientists say the true number may actually be more like 20,000 per day, four times higher

The number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 has declined 16 per cent in the past week, to 12,692 – the NHS now plans to slowly return to normal

Professor John Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told MPs today that the UK is still seeing a ‘sobering’ number of deaths because of COVID-19 and that data is still not good enough to come out of lockdown.

There are also questions about the reproduction rate of the virus – known as the R value – and how that varies across the country. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said at today’s Downing Street briefing that it is thought to be between 0.5 and 0.9 nationally. 

Professor Edmunds put it between 0.75 and 1 and said it has gone up in the past two weeks because of worsening outbreaks in care homes around the country.

If the number rises above 1, the outbreak will start to spiral and could get out of control again.   

Government statistics revealed a further 5,614 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 yesterday – 35,000 people have tested positive in the last week.

And there are now 12,692 people in hospital with the coronavirus, which is down 16 per cent from last week but shows the illness is still widespread in England and Wales.

If Professor Edmunds’s 20,000-a-day prediction is correct it could raise concerns about the Government’s plans to start relaxing lockdown measures next week.

Speaking to MPs at a meeting of the Science and Technology Committee today, Professor Edmunds said: ‘The incidence has to come right down for contact tracing to be feasible, really, to be able to contact trace all of those contacts for those individual cases.

‘If we get the incidence right down, I think that contact tracing will play a role. I don’t think it’s going to be sufficient to… I wouldn’t want to rely on that alone.

‘So I do think that we will need other social distance measures in place.’ 

If the number of people getting infected each day remained at 20,000, the country could expect to see 100 deaths per day, assuming a 0.5 per cent death rate, which has been suggested by statistics coming from other nations.

Contract tracing could be unfeasible at this level of transmission because the Government is planning to employ around 18,000 contact tracers to track down people who have been close to infected patients.

Officials will not be able to carry out their ‘test, track, trace’ plan until the number of new patients is under control. 

The Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, which has been advising the Government, estimated in March that the global average R0 of the coronavirus was 3.87. As social distancing and lockdown took effect that number has now plummeted to below 1, potentially as low as 0.5, meaning the virus will die out naturally if this continues

Germany’s top diseases institute said the closely-watched R rate had fallen from 0.71 to 0.65, meaning the epidemic is losing pace even as it lifts lockdown restrictions and reopens schools


Every infectious disease is given a reproduction number, which is known as R0 – pronounced ‘R nought’.

It is a value that represents how many people one sick person will, on average, infect. 


The R0 value for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was estimated by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team to be 2.4 in the UK before lockdown started.  

But some experts analysing outbreaks across the world have estimated it could be closer to the 6.6 mark. 

Estimates of the R0 vary because the true size of the pandemic remains a mystery, and how fast the virus spreads depends on the environment. 

It will spread faster in a densely-populated city where people travel on the subway than it will in a rural community where people drive everywhere.


It is thought to be at least three times more contagious than the coronavirus that causes MERS (0.3 – 0.8).   

Measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases, and has an R0 value of 12 to 18 if left uncontrolled. Widespread vaccination keeps it suppressed in most developed countries.

Chickenpox’s R0 is estimated to be between 10 and 12, while seasonal flu has a value of around 1.5.  


The higher the R0 value, the harder it is for health officials control the spread of the disease.

A number lower than one means the outbreak will run out of steam and be forced to an end. 

This is because the infectious disease will quickly run out of new victims to strike. 


The UK’s draconian lockdown, imposed on March 23 has slowed Britain’s coronavirus crisis, studies show.

Scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine last month analysed the virus in the UK.

They estimated each infected patient may now only be passing COVID-19 on to 0.62 others, down from 2.6.

The team said the virus was struggling to spread because people were having less contact with others.

They used a survey of 1,300 people who were asked to list what human contact they had in the past 24 hours.

This was compared to a similar survey done in 2005 to give an idea of how it had changed because of lockdown.

As well as the numbers of people infected falling, the rate of transmission must also be kept low with social distancing and lockdown measures, experts say.

This is referred to as the R value of the virus and denotes the average number of people each infected person passes on the illness to. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week put the R – and the task of keeping it below 1 and preventing another surge in infections – at the heart of Britain’s virus battle.

It was believed to be just below 4 at the start of the UK’s rampant epidemic but Professor Edmunds now predicts it is between 0.75 and 1, meaning that, if it can be kept below 1, the outbreak will burn itself out.

The chief statistician at the Office for National Statistics said in today’s Downing Street briefing that both the R and the number of infectious people must come down together.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond said he ‘would not demur’ from the estimate that the R had gone up in recent weeks.

He said: ‘It is important to recognise that the R number itself is only relevant if you look also at the context of the prevalence. 

‘I think we need to look at the two together to properly understand where we are… we need certainly to get on top of the epidemic in care homes and in hospitals.’

He said that, if the R was 1, the number of cases would flatline because no more than one person would catch the virus at a time but the number would also not decline.

Dominic Raab added that ‘overall, the R is down’, and said controlling infection rates in hospitals and care homes was now the Government’s ‘top focus’.   

Despite the R rate being high in hospitals and care homes, which are higher risk areas, it is believed to be very low in the community because people are no longer having regular face-to-face contact with others.  

Professor Edmunds told the science committee that, a couple of weeks ago he would have said the R in the community was between 0.6 and 0.8.

But because of higher infection rates in medical facilities, he said, the overall estimate now stood at close to 1. 

‘It’s a big problem that we have in hospitals and care homes,’ he said.

‘I think what’s happened is that the community epidemic has come down and that epidemic is now being concentrated in these settings.’

And Professor Edmunds added: ‘Our data are really not really good enough to give us any certainty about what the reproduction number really is in hospitals and it’s probably variable between one hospital and another, and care homes is even worse.’     

Professor Diamond said it was important to look at excess mortality during the coronavirus outbreak.

He added: ‘When we look normally at excess deaths, we see the highest excess deaths right in the heart of winter, in the heart of what is often called the flu season.

‘To see them in the middle of a sunny April is absolutely sobering.’

Professor Edmunds’s comments come after a study from the University of East Anglia suggested that not all social distancing measures were equal when it came to slashing coronavirus infections.

The paper, which studied data and restrictions in 30 countries around the world, suggested that a full-blown lockdown may not have been necessary.

One of the scientists involved in the research, Dr Julii Brainard, said they found clear distinctions between which measures were more effective.

‘We found that three of the control measures were especially effective and the other two were not,’ she told BBC Radio 4 this morning. 

‘It pains me to say this because I have kids that I’d like to get back into education, but closing schools was the most effective single measure, followed by mass gatherings.

‘[This was] followed by what were defined… as the initial business closures. So that was the point when, in the UK for instance, they closed gyms and clubs.

‘Adding very little additional effect was the stay-at-home measure, surprisingly, and the additional business closures.’ 

Graphs provided by researchers at the University of East Anglia compare how separate lockdown measures affected their ‘risk ratio’ – an algorithm which predicts how likely the virus is to spread. The gradients show that risk dropped over time after mass gatherings were banned, schools were closed and ‘initial businesses ‘ were shut, including gyms. Gradients which showed less of an effect, or apparently no effect at all, on the risk ratio are pictured, showing that total business closures, staying at home, and wearing masks do not appear to impact the risk of virus spread

Results of the study – based on data from 30 countries – also showed how the same measures worked to keep death tolls down

How Britain’s R number plummeted when the lockdown was introduced and what it means for emerging from the other side

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week put detailed science at the heart of Britain’s coronavirus crisis and said the status of the lockdown now depends on the virus’s reproduction number – known as the R. 

Watching the number of new patients and the rate at which it goes up or down will be the best way officials can monitor how quickly the virus is spreading, which will in turn guide which risks the Government feels it can take in lifting lockdown.

The data that lays out Britain’s R value will shape the lives of everyone in the UK over the coming weeks and months, and MailOnline here explains how: 

What is the R number? 

Every infectious disease is given a reproduction number, which is known as R0 – pronounced ‘R nought’ – or simply R.

It is a value that represents how many people one sick person will, on average, infect if the virus is reproducing in its ideal conditions.

Most epidemiologists – scientists who track disease outbreaks – believe the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, has an R value of around 3.

But some experts analysing outbreaks across the world have estimated it could be closer to the 6.6 mark.

As an outbreak goes on, the R0 may be referred to more accurately as Re or just R, as other factors come into play to influence how well it is able to spread. 

Estimates of the COVID-19 R vary because the true size of the pandemic remains a mystery, and how fast the virus spreads depends on the environment. 

As an outbreak progress the R may simply be referred to as R, which means the effective rate of infection – the nought works on the premise that nobody in the population is protected, which becomes outdated as more people recover. 

How does the reproductive rate compare to other infections? 

SARS-CoV-2 is thought to be at three times more contagious than the coronavirus that causes MERS (0.3 – 0.8).

Measles is one of the most contagious infectious diseases, and has an R0 value of between 12 and 18 if left uncontrolled. Widespread vaccination keeps it suppressed in most developed countries.

Chickenpox’s R0 is estimated to be between 10 and 12, but this is controlled in the UK by herd immunity. So many people catch it as children and become immune to reinfection that it is unable to spread among adults.

Seasonal flu has an R value of around 1.5 but it mutates so often – there are often one or more new strains each year – that people cannot develop total immunity to it. Recovering from one strain of flu does not protect someone from others.  

Ebola has an R0 of between 1.4 and 1.8 – this is low but it has so far only spread in countries with poor health facilities and its extremely high death rate (50 per cent) makes it a threat.   

Mumps has an R0 of between 10 and 12, making it highly infectious, but the measles vaccine (MMR) protects most people in Britain from catching it.

The R0 for whooping cough, known medically as pertussis, is estimated to be 5.5. The NHS urges mothers to have the pertussis vaccine during pregnancy because they are able to pass immunity on to their baby naturally.

How is it calculated? And can scientists ever be sure of the number? 

The R is not a set number and scientists calculate it by studying how fast the virus spreads in its perfect environment and also in society.

While the biology of the virus and the way it spreads – whether through coughs or blood, for example – will have some influence, but human behaviour is a bigger factor.

Tracking the rise in numbers of new cases, and how quickly the number of patients is doubling, are two of the best ways to estimate the R, according to senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Bath, and author of the Maths of Life and Death, Dr Kit Yates. 

He told MailOnline: ‘Most modellers will give uncertainty ranges with their estimates suggesting R could be as high as this or as low as that.

‘The R0 is not a fundamental property of the virus. It will change depending on the community through which the disease is passing. 

‘[It] depends on three factors: the transmissibility (how easily the disease passes between people); the infectious period (the longer it is, the more chances there are for an infectious person to pass on the disease); and the population through which the disease is passing. 

‘The more people there are and the more densely packed they are the easier it will be for the disease to spread, so we can’t just take the R0 measured in one country and use it in another.’

Dr Jennifer Cole, a biological anthropologist at the Royal Holloway university in London said: ‘It’s incredibly difficult to calculate [the R0] without doing it in retrospect.

She explained that detailed data can show how fast the virus has spread but they are most accurate when you’re looking back in time, not at the present day. 

‘At the moment we don’t have exact numbers but we have a rough idea,’ Dr Cole added. 

‘As long as you can say the R0 is between one and two, or between three and four, that’s broadly enough to make the decisions you need to on social distancing.’  

Did Britain’s R number plummet when the lockdown was introduced?

Imperial College London’s COVID-19 Response Team estimated the R0 value for the coronavirus was 2.4 in the UK before lockdown started.

This meant that, before Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the national shutdown on March 23, every 10 people who caught the virus would infect 24 others.

But scientists have since calculated that the rate has fallen below 1, meaning the crisis will peter out if the situation stays the same. 

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine researchers said in a paper published at the start of April that they thought the number was 0.62.

They surveyed 1,300 people about their movements and contacts and to judge how many people they were likely to have infected if they were carrying with the virus.

And England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told MPs in a Science and Technology Committee meeting last week the R was between 0.5 and 1.

His counterpart – the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance – has also claimed it was at a similar rate, saying it is now between 0.6 and 0.9 across the UK.

In last night’s Downing Street press conference, he suggested it was lower in London and added: ‘It’s not exactly uniform across the country’. 

If the number is dropping, why are we still in lockdown?

Substantial drops in the virus’s reproduction rate and the number of people infected are vital for the UK to even consider moving out of lockdown.

Number three on the Government’s list of five criteria that must be met before lockdown can end is: ‘Reliable data to show the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board’.

While Sir Patrick and Professor Whitty say they believe the R is now below one, the Government is, arguably, lacking the ‘reliable data’ to prove it.

COVID-19 testing had, until last week, been restricted to only hospital patients and medical staff, meaning the true scale of the outbreak was unclear.

 Tests are being rolled out more widely now to people who think they might have the virus and also to more than 100,000 random people across the population.

A landmark report published by Imperial College London on March 30 showed politicians in the UK how the virus’s reproduction rate could change as the country progressed through lockdown, using models from other countries that had introduced strict social distancing measures earlier (pictured in series). That report came after one by the same team that estimated up to half a million people could die if the Government didn’t act, which was credited with persuading Boris Johnson to order the nation to stay at home on March 23

Officials will now want to see the number of new cases being diagnosed stay low even as they scale up testing, which would show the virus is on its way out. If numbers continue to stay low and even to fall for weeks that would demonstrate the illness is spreading slowly.

Because so few people have had the disease and developed immunity, it is vital that the number of people currently infected drops as low as possible before lockdown lifts, to avoid those patients triggering another outbreak.  

Bath’s Dr Yates said: ‘If the UK relaxes social distancing now, while most of the population is still susceptible, it runs the very real risk of a second wave.

‘At the moment suggestions are that R0 might be around 0.7 which means we have a bit of room for manoeuvre in letting up on complete lockdown. 


Authorities in Denmark sent children back to schools two weeks ago and, since then the rate of coronavirus spread has increased, officials say.

The country has had a relatively small outbreak, with just 9,356 officially diagnosed cases and 452 deaths.

As a result, it has endured a shorter lockdown and already started to ease restrictions.

However, the country’s infectious diseases agency Status for Smittetrykket I Danmark (SSI), has found that the reproduction rate of the virus has risen to close to 1 – which could trigger another outbreak – since schools were reopened on April 20.

It has risen to 0.6 to 0.9 in that time, The Local reported.

Research published earlier this week will cause governments to think twice before reopening schools after it revealed that children appear to be just as likely to catch and spread COVID-19 as adults.

In its status report the SSI said: ‘There is no indication that there is an actual acceleration of the epidemic’. 

‘Provided we keep R0 below 1 then the disease will continue to die out. The reason we are holding on to complete lockdown for so long is because we want to bring cases down to a very low level and the quickest way to do that is to keep R as low as possible. 

‘To some degree the impact of various different measures is quantifiable and modellers are running through a range of different scenarios in order to advise the government on the best policy.

‘But until we actually go through the experiment of lifting the different restrictions we will not really know the effect on R. You can expect a great deal of caution in the measures the government start to relax. Expect it to be conservative initially.’   

Movements in Government suggest the lockdown in its current state is likely to continue until June, after Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, yesterday said she thought it would still be too soon for change at next week’s three-weekly review, due to be held on May 7. 

Professor Whitty did, however, offer a glimmer of hope in a science and technology committee meeting last week when he said the R being below one ‘gives a ‘little bit of scope for manoeuvre and ticking some things off while still keeping it below 1’. 

How will testing 100,000 people track the R value after lockdown? 

Sir Patrick Vallance, Britain’s chief scientific adviser, yesterday confirmed officials will move forward by using random population testing and numbers of official cases to work out how the R value changes in future.

He said at the Downing Street briefing: ‘At the moment we’re using a calculated R looking at all sorts of things including contacts, looking at genomics, looking at data from ambulances, hospital admissions, and so on, to calculate the R.’ 

As part of its three-point ‘test, track, trace’ plan, at least 25,000 people are being enrolled into a plan to test a sample of the population each month for a year to see if they are currently ill with the virus, tracking it over time.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute is publishing the government’s daily best estimates of the country’s R0, showing it dropped by almost during April’s lockdown

In a second branch of the tracking project, people in 1,000 households across the country will submit to monthly blood testing to see if they have immunity to the coronavirus from being infected with it in the past. 

The Government will also test 100,000 random people in a one-off swab testing scheme, to get an idea of what proportion of the population is infected at present.

Public Health England is carrying out ongoing antibody testing in its Porton Down laboratory to build up an idea of how many people have had the virus in the past and how they have developed immunity to it, and up to 10,000 people will be sent home antibody testing kits to add to this data. 

Early results from these nationwide surveys are expected early this month and will help gather a picture of how many people are getting infected with the virus and how fast it’s spreading. 

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is also trying to estimate how much the virus is spreading by surveying people about their movements and social contacts in recent days and weeks.

It estimated in April that the R had dropped from 2.6 to 0.62 in the first month of the UK’s lockdown.   

Will health chiefs publish the R number every day? 

Health chiefs have yet to reveal whether they will publish the R number each day, despite the Prime Minister putting the number at the heart of the battle in his speech yesterday.

But ministers in Germany – which has been widely praised for its rigorous approach to halting the outbreak – do provide a daily update.

Situation reports published by the Robert Koch Institute, the country’s centre for disease control, show the R0 dropped below one on April 15.

The number fluctuates on a daily basis – it was 0.9 on Tuesday and 0.75 yesterday, meaning it may not be a reliable day-by-day measure, but could be useful to track over time.

Watching the R number as the country comes out of lockdown would be useful because it could reveal exactly how different measures affect the rate of infection.

The lockdown happened all at once but will be lifted piece by piece, meaning calculating how each restriction affects the number cannot truly be known until it is taken away.

Dr Robin Thompson, a mathematical epidemiology researcher at University of Oxford, said: ‘A key challenge now is to identify measures that can be relaxed that have only limited impacts on the value of R. 

‘One of the reasons that this is particularly challenging is that interventions were first introduced in the UK within a few days of each other. As a result, it is hard to disentangle the relative effects of different interventions on the reproduction number.’

Police complain they are becoming the ‘villains of the pandemic’ as officers prepare to crack down on Bank Holiday sunbathers

Police are concerned a planned easing of lockdown rules next week will make it difficult to enforce this weekend’s bank holiday. 

Several forces have faced criticism about the way they have reacted to the government’s lockdown. 

Now, police fear the dilution of the stay at home message combined with predicted good weather and the bank holiday weekend will see a surge of people heading to beaches and other beauty spots. 

Police officers have been enforcing lockdown rules by moving on sunbathers who have been enjoying the good weather in parks around the country

With good weather predicted this weekend, officers fear they will be seen as villains for upholding the law 

One officer told The Times: ‘There is a certain amount of trepidation and frustration ahead of the weekend.

‘We have always said we need a clear and consistent message from government to the public but there is now a view that things are being relaxed. A lot of people seem to have decided that it is all over.

‘We are being asked to enforce the lockdown and we are going to be painted as villains once again when we stop people enjoying the sunshine and having VE Day parties with their neighbours.’

As well breaching social distancing rules, police have also warned motorists against speeding over the bank holiday weekend.  

On Thursday, Scotland Yard announced 10 people had been killed in road crashes since emergency measures came in on March 23.

Extreme speeding enforcement in London since the lockdown had surged by 142 per cent, compared with the same period last year, police said.

Officers issued more than 4,000 enforcement notices since lockdown compared with the same period last year of over just over 2,300 – a 71 per cent increase in speeding enforcement compared with the same period in 2019 despite 40 per cent less traffic on the road.

One officer said: ‘We are being asked to enforce the lockdown and we are going to be painted as villains once again when we stop people enjoying the sunshine and having VE Day parties with their neighbours’

Detective Superintendent Andy Cox said: ‘The majority of Londoners have followed Government advice and have stayed at home.

‘However, a small number of individuals have gone against the advice and have used this opportunity to abuse the less congested roads and drive at excess speed and in many cases extreme speeds.

‘In doing so, their actions increase the risk to their own safety and that of other road users and in the event of a collision can lead to devastating consequences for themselves, and bereaved family and friends.

‘Going into the bank holiday weekend, we urge drivers to only make the most essential journeys and to do so sensibly, safely and lawfully.

‘During these unprecedented times, dealing with road traffic collisions puts a lot of additional, yet avoidable pressure on the NHS and other emergency services, who are working on the frontline 24 hours a day to keep London safe.’

‘Traffic officers continue to police the roads, 24/7, and will use enforcement against those breaking the law. Our message is simple; slow down, respect the speed limits, you’re not only risking your life but those of other people.’ 

AA president Edmund King said: ‘It is likely that more drivers will be venturing out from their virtual hibernation as talk of lockdown lifting ramps up.

‘It is vital that all drivers ensure that both their cars and themselves are well-prepared for driving. The fact that there will be less traffic on the roads doesn’t mean that drivers should treat the roads as a race track.

‘Indeed rusty drivers should drive slower than normal as our analysis suggests that 36 per cent more people will be out cycling, running and walking.

‘The last thing careless and dangerous drivers should be doing is putting more pressure on the NHS, ambulance services and potentially taking up precious hospital beds.’

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James Martin slams lockdown moaners and reveals he’s never watched himself on TV for fear of seeing his ‘double chin’ – The Sun

CELEBRITY chef James Martin has no time for whinging when it comes to being confined to his country home in lockdown.

The star, 47, revealed his days are non-stop from 6am until 7pm as he helps feed his local village and plots a return to work by creating 30 recipes a week.

He told The Sun's TV Mag: “It’s a bit surreal, isn’t it? But I’m not one to sit and mope around.

"I get up a 6am, have a shower, get changed – and I mean properly changed, not moping around in bloody pyjamas – and then I have a list of things every day to do, and I don’t finish until 7pm."

James's restaurant The Kitchen has helped co-ordinate vegetable deliveries around the country and he has also mass-produced pasta to give to his neighbours.

He explained: “Wellocks, for instance are now delivering 11,000 boxes of veg to people around the UK, which we helped with, and TRUEfoods had 2,000 pies they wanted to give away and asked me where I wanted them to go, so we sent them to hospices for the elderly and kids.

“Then I grabbed the pasta machine from the restaurant, a big industrial thing, managed to get a load of flour and eggs and made 600kg of pasta, enough for six to eight weeks for my whole village. I put it outside the gate every week and when the villagers come out for their daily walk they can come and grab some. Some of them have given me stuff back – one dropped some wild garlic, which I made pesto out of and put back out there."

The chef recently came in for criticism from some viewers of his Saturday Morning show who accused him of breaking social distancing rules, unaware it was filmed before guidelines were put in place.

He called the reaction "pathetic" and admitted he doesn't care for feedback to his shows.

“People didn’t realise and it all kicked off," he said. "It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic. I can’t be a**ed with them, and I don’t even respond to them.

"You just do what you do and give your very, very best. I’ve never given a s**t about what people think anyway."

James has been on TV for more than two decades starring on the likes of Ready Steady Cook, Saturday Kitchen and a number of self-titled programmes.

He continued: “It may sound really weird but I’ve never actually watched a single show I’ve done. I get the feeling if I did, I’d change.

"I’d look at myself and think: ‘Oh s**t, I shouldn’t have worn that!’ or: “We won’t do that angle again, look at that double chin!’ Honestly, life is too bloody short. I love my job and I’m very privileged to do it and try my very best.”

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Is lockdown affecting our sex drives?

If you’ve noticed a change in your sex drive since the lockdown started, you’re likely not the only one.

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting nationwide lockdown has had a far-reaching and possibly irrevocable impact on our lives.

That impact may well stretch as far as our libidos, with Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at Lovehoney, telling that stress, which hasn’t exactly been in short supply since the pandemic started, could be to blame if you’re feeling less randy than you normally might.

She said: ‘The most obvious effect of anxiety on your sex life is a lowered libido, or desire to have sex. Higher levels of cortisol are associated with anxiety and stress emotions, and high cortisol can suppress sex hormones that impact desire. Having sex when you’re feeling anxious is also basically like asking your mind to multitask, which is hard to do.

‘You are faced with two competing interests for the same neurological system – your anxiety and your sexual activity. It’s not surprising you may struggle to get in the mood.’

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Counselling Directory member Monika Dedus says couples are not exempt from a lockdown libido change, telling us: ‘Recently, I’ve had many more couples seeking therapeutic advice together rather than individually.

‘Depending on the stage and length of the relationship, couples who are going through lockdown together, have reported experiencing intimacy issues being magnified by living in the same space 24/7 alongside personal and professional pressures, as well as their mental health issues.

‘For some couples, the first couple of weeks of being stuck together felt a bit like a holiday with an increase in sexual drive and desire. However, for some this soon has changed into a “Groundhog Day feeling” and intimacy and sex may have significantly decreased.

‘As one of my new clients pointed out “there is nowhere to hide now from problems when we are stuck in the same space together and sex is not really on the menu”’

‘But,’ Annabelle Knight says, ‘no two people are the same.

‘Many people use sex as a stress-buster and will masturbate more and engage in full sexual activity more during a stressful time like lockdown. They can shut out feelings of anxiety during arousal and live for the moment. This is true whether you are on your own or living with a partner.’

Counselling Directory member Beverley Hills said there’s a chemical benefit to orgasms when it comes to stress relief.

She told us: ‘In order to escape our anxieties during insecure times we humans tend to self soothe the psyche and physically utilise whatever methods we can find comfort in.

‘Orgasms reduce stress by triggering endorphins in the brain leading to a positive feeling in the body.’

Meanwhile Jessica Leoni, sex and relationship expert from the dating site, said people could be using sex as a distraction from what is at present a rather downbeat reality.

She said: ‘The news is so unremittingly grim that we need a positive outlet to make us all feel happier. Sex is that outlet for a lot of people.

‘You can see examples of similar behaviour at other times of national crisis. There is a lot of research showing there was heightened promiscuity in Britain during World War Two, for instance, due to an ‘end of the world feeling’ that we could die at any moment.

‘I am not suggesting that young people in particular are imperilled in quite the same way by Covid-19 but nevertheless they are maybe wanting to seize the moment more and enjoy any physical pleasures they can.’

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NY lockdown protesters with NO MASKS rail against Gov as he tells them ‘get job as essential worker’  – The Sun

DEMONSTRATORS in New York have raged against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus lockdown.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Capitol building in Albany, Upstate New York on Wednesday, as Governor Cuomo was giving his daily COVID-19 press conference.

Dubbed “Operation Gridlock: Reopen New York State", protesters fed up with the shutdown held placards and chanted, while drivers honked the horns of cars decorated with American flags and Trump 2020 signs.

In his daily briefing, Governor Cuomo acknowledged the protest but appeared unmoved.

“Nothing comes before public health risk,” Governor Cuomo said of those demanding an end to isolation measures so they can get back to work.

“You want to go to work so badly? Then go get a job as an essential worker and go to work.

“How can the cure be worse than death?” he asked. “What is worse than death? The illness is death.”

Protesters held signs targeting the Governor with one reading “Dictator Cuomo, give our lives back.”

“Cuomo sucks” and “Cuomo a**hole,” read some others.

Demonstrators, many of whom did not wear face coverings or practice social distancing, chanted “Let us out.”

“People are losing their livelihoods,” one woman said. “This can’t go on. It’s ridiculous.”

Another she said she was there to support local businesses, urging the government to allow them to re-open before the end of the New York State Pause, which has been extended to May 15 in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes as the US death toll from coronavirus doubled in just one week, growing to more than 45,000 killed.

COVID-19 has hit New York harder than any other state in the US, with more than 250,000 cases and 14,828 deaths.

Lockdown rules, which experts say are essential to slow the spread of the virus, have ground the economy across all continents to a virtual standstill.

Across America, groups of demonstrators — some armed with high-powered assault rifles — have been seen taking to the streets in protest of lockdown orders aimed at limiting the spread of the killer virus.

It comes as unemployment numbers across the nation reached an unprecedented 22 million — wiping out the gains made in the decade since the 2008 financial crisis.

Some states, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Texas have eased social distancing restrictions, despite warnings that ending the shutdown now could have a worse economic impact in the long run.

The government's coronavirus advisor Dr Anthony Fauci warned of reopening states too soon:

"The message [from the protests] is that clearly this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics, from the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus.

"But unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen.”

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