Good evening and welcome to the Number Ten Coronavirus Press Conference
Before I turn to this evening’s announcements, I want to update you on the latest data
- 3,532,634 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out in the UK, including 73,726 tests carried out yesterday;
- 261,184 people have tested positive, that’s an increase of 1,625 cases since yesterday;
- 8,834 people are in hospital with COVID-19 in the UK, down (12%) from 10,092 this time last week;
And sadly, of those who tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 36,914 have now died. That’s an increase of 121 fatalities since yesterday. This new figure includes deaths in all settings not just in hospitals.
And once again my deepest condolences go out to all those who have lost their loved ones before their time. We must not, and will not, forget them.
Two weeks ago, I set out our road map for the next phase of our fight against Covid 19
It is a cautious plan, informed by the evidence about what is safe, and conditional upon our continued progress against the virus.
And we are making progress. Thanks to this country’s collective efforts, the key indicators are heading in the right direction. The daily number of deaths is down, the number of new cases is down, our survey evidence suggests the infection rate is falling, and the R has not risen above one.
So just over 2 weeks ago, we moved to step 1 of our plan, encouraging those who are unable to work from home to go back to work, with new guidelines setting out how workplaces can be made COVID-secure.
At the same time, we allowed people to spend more time outdoors and to meet one member of another household outside, provided they remain 2 metres apart.
I also said we would be able to move to step 2 of our plan no earlier than Monday 1 June – a week today.
We will set out our formal assessment of the 5 tests that we set for adjusting the lockdown later this week, as part of the 3 weekly-review we are legally required to undertake by Thursday.
But because of the progress we are making, I can, with confidence, put the British people on notice of the changes we intend to introduce as we move into step 2.
And I think it is important to give that notice, so that people have sufficient time to adjust and get ready before those changes come into effect.
Yesterday I set out our intention to begin reopening nurseries and particular years in primary schools, reception, year 1, year 6, from 1 June, followed by some contact for those secondary school pupils with exams next year from 15 June. Some contact for years 10 and 12 from 15 June with their teachers.
This announcement has given schools, teachers and parents clarity about our intentions, enabling them to prepare in earnest. The Department for Education is now engaging with teaching unions, councils and school leaders to help schools get ready.
Today, I want to give the retail sector notice of our intentions to reopen shops, so they too can get ready.
So I can announce that it is our intention to allow outdoor markets to reopen from June 1, subject to all premises being made COVID-secure, as well as car showrooms, which often have significant outdoor space and where it is generally easier to apply social distancing.
We know that the transmission of the virus is lower outdoors and that it is easier to follow Covid Secure guidelines in open spaces. That means we can also allow outdoor markets to reopen in a safe way that does not risk causing a second wave of the virus.
Then, from 15 June, we intend to allow all other non-essential retail, ranging from department stores to small, independent shops, to reopen. Again, this change will be contingent upon progress against the 5 tests and will only be permitted for those retail premises which are COVID-secure.
Today we are publishing new guidance for the retail sector detailing the measures they should take to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards. Shops now have the time to implement this guidance before they reopen. This will ensure there can be no doubt about what steps they should take.
While the vast majority of businesses will want to do everything possible to protect their staff and customers, I should add that we will, of course, have the powers we need to enforce compliance where that is required.
I want people to be confident they can shop safely, provided they follow the social distancing rules for all premises.
The food retail sector has already responded fantastically well, enabling supermarkets to be kept open in a safe way – and we will learn lessons from that experience as we allow other retail to open.
These are careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country.
And we can only take these steps thanks to what we have so far achieved together.
We will only be successful if we all remember the basics – so wash your hands, keep social distance, and isolate if you have symptoms – and get a test.
I will now hand over to Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director of Public Health England, to take us through today’s slides.