Boris Johnson's lockdown adjustments clarified: What you can and cannot do in England

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has adjusted the coronavirus lockdown in England in order to gradually "rebuild our economy and open our society".

After making a national address on Sunday evening, the PM gave an update to MPs on how the lockdown would be eased, after the government published a 50-page document revealing details of the forthcoming plan.

Step one to easing the lockdown begins on Wednesday, with the government hoping for step two to start on June 1 and step three by July 4.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Johnson told MPs: "If we stay on the downward slope and the R [rate of infection] remains below one, then and only then, would it become safe to go further and move to the second step."

Details of the further steps are outlined below, with the government saying they will only be taken if the "five tests" (pictured below) are met.

The prime minister said in a Commons statement that the government would be driven by “data and science and public health” in easing the restrictions.

Mr Johnson said he "will not hesitate to put on the brakes" in relaxing the lockdown if evidence shows the R number (rate of infection) is rising.

With matters of health devolved, Mr Johnson does not speak for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland - his changes only apply to England.

Mr Johnson acknowledged "different parts of the UK may need to stay in full lockdown longer" but said that should only be "short-term".

The 'five tests' for easing lockdown. Credit: COBRA

He added: “There is a very, very strong desire to move forward as four nations together… We all share this strong view that you should stay at home if you can, that remains the position."

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford pointed out that the advice in devolved nations "clearly remains ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives’".

Mr Blackford added that the government had not shared the new “stay alert” slogan with the devolved administrations and that they learnt of the change “in the Sunday newspapers”.

“Will the Prime Minister commit not to deploy this new slogan in Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland unless the devolved governments decide otherwise?” he asked.

  • ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston explains how the nations within the UK have reacted to Boris Johnson's announcements

In a direct response to the PM's Sunday evening national address, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer recorded his own speech, in which he attacked the government's coronavirus response.

In the speech, he said: "The prime minister said he was setting out a road map, but if we are to complete the journey safely a road map needs clear directions."

Sir Keir told the Commons the country needs “clarity and reassurance” from the government, with both being in "pretty short supply".

He said Mr Johnson had made his Sunday evening speech "before the plan was written, or at least finalised."

So, what do the eased restrictions in England look like?

Friends and family in public spaces:

People can go outside for a long as they want now, rather than just for one hour. Credit: PA

The government has updated its advice on outdoor activity, after evidence showed the "risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside".

From Wednesday people may go outdoors "as many times each day as they wish," the document says, as opposed to just for one hour, as was previously the rule.

Mr Johnson said people can meet up with one person who is not part of their household, so long as they maintain a distance of at least two metres from each other.

So from Wednesday, people will be able to go angling, play tennis and go for picnics and sunbathe.

In an address to MPs in the Commons, Mr Johnson said people can "walk, sit and rest in parks" - they can even go swimming in lakes and the sea.

People are also now permitted to visit garden centres, which have been told they can reopen.

People are still not able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.

People may also "drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance", so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there.

Leaving home to stay at another home for a holiday or other purpose is not allowed. This includes visiting second homes.

Premises such as hotels and bed and breakfasts will remain closed, except where providing accommodation for specific reasons set out in law, such as for critical workers where required for a reason relating to their work.

When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and "do not travel to different parts of the UK".

  • Step two on family and friends:

For step two, which the government hopes will begin on June 1, a "range of options" are being considered to reduce the impact of social distancing.

It has asked Sage - the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies - to assess whether people should be allowed to expand their household group to include one other household in the same exclusive group.

Mr Johnson told MPs: “Nothing can substitute for human contact and so the Government has asked Sage when and how we can safely allow people to expand their household group to include one other household on a strictly reciprocal basis.”

The aim of this plan is to allow those who are isolated some more social contact, and to reduce the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions.

The government is also examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings.

The workplace:

Manufacturing and construction industries are being encouraged to return to work. Credit: PA

In his address, the prime minister said people should be "actively encouraged" to return to work from Wednesday, if they are unable to work from home.

However, he said people should only return to work where social distancing can be observed and at firms which are "Covid-secure".

But there was confusion over exactly who should return to work. The document published on Monday offers a little more detail.

The document says: "For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible."

The government says this is to protect those who must physically attend work, by "minimising the risk of overcrowding on transport and in public places".

The document says sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open, "should be open".

Sectors encouraged to reopen include: Garden centres, food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories.

Sectors that must remain closed: Hospitality and non-essential retail.

Nannies and childminders can also return to work, if safe to do so (see section on schools), to allow more parents to return to work.

Anyone with symptoms should not return to work, and should instead self-isolate, as should members of their household.

If someone is concerned that an employer is not taking all practical steps to promote social distancing then they can be reported to local authorities or the Health and Safety Executive.

These bodies can take a range of action, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps.

  • Step two for workplaces:

From June 1 the government hopes non-essential retail shops will be able to in reopen in "phases".

Firms will only be allowed to reopen if they comply with new "Covid-19 Secure" guidelines, which will be released shortly.

Businesses will be told at which phase they are allowed to reopen.

All other sectors that are currently closed, including the hospitality and personal care industries, are not able to re-open at this point because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher.

The opening of such sectors is likely to take place in phases during step three, which the government believes will be no earlier than July 4.

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

At this point, if safe to do so, businesses such as hairdressers, beauty salons, food service providers, pubs and accommodation, will be allowed to reopen in phases.

Public places, such as places of worship and leisure facilities like cinemas may also be allowed to open at this point.

Venues which are crowded and where it may prove difficult to obey distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point.


Vulnerable children will be encouraged to go to school from Wednesday. Credit: PA

When imposing the lockdown, the prime minister ordered the closure of all schools except for the children of key workers, who should be allowed to attend lessons.

The government says that resulted in just 2% of children attending lessons in person.

"But there is a large social benefit" for vulnerable children in attending school, the government document said.

As such, from Wednesday the government wants schools to "urge more children who would benefit from attending in person, to do so".

Children will not be expected to wear face coverings while at school.

Paid childcare is allowed to resume, including nannies and childminders, as long as it's safe to do so.

The government says this should help working parents return to work.

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent John Ray

  • Step two for schools

Step two for schools will begin with a "phased return for early years" the government has said.

It has advised schools to prepare for a reopening as soon as June 1, with the expectation that primary children will be able to return from this date.

There is an "ambition" to have all primary children back at school a month before the summer, if feasible, though this will be kept under review.

Secondary schools and colleges should also prepare for face-to-face contact with some of their pupils, namely those in the later years who have key exams next year.

This is to allow teachers to support children's continued remote, home learning ahead of their exams.


The government still wants people to avoid public transport. Credit: PA

When travelling, the government says "everybody (including critical workers) should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible".

It is encouraging people to only travel by foot, bicycle, or by car, however it acknowledges public transport is essential for some people in getting to work.

With more people returning to work, demand for public transport will increase.

The government is "working with public transport providers" to bring services back as "quickly as possible" to pre-coronavirus levels, so people are able to keep a safe distance from others.

To promote cycling, the government says it will "increase funding" and provide new guidance to encourage local authorities to widen pavements, create pop-up cycle lanes, and close some roads in cities to traffic (apart from buses).

Face coverings:

Face coverings can slow the spread of transmission, evidence has shown. Credit: PA

As people return to work, the government wants people to "wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible".

It says while on public transport or in supermarkets, face coverings "can help reduce the risk of transmission", though wearing them is "not compulsory".

Face-coverings are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against transmission of the disease to others.

The government says people should not wear clinical face masks, which are intended for health care professionals, but "homemade" face coverings, which are also beneficial.

International travel:

The prime minister told MPs that anyone arriving from overseas should isolate for 14 days, unless they are on a shortlist.

All international arrivals must supply their contact and accommodation information - if they are unable to do so, they must stay in somewhere arranged by the government.

Everyone arriving from overseas will also be "strongly advised" to download and use the NHS contact tracing app.

International travel measures will not come into force on Wednesday May 13, but will be introduced "as soon as possible".

"All of our precautions will count for little if our country is reinfected from overseas," the prime minister told MPs.

However, a reciprocal deal between the UK and France means that anyone travelling between the two countries will not need to isolate for two weeks.

Further details, and guidance, will be set out shortly, the government said.

Other measures:

From June 1 the government hopes sporting events, such as football matches, will be safe to take place behind closed doors, for broadcast, so long as social distancing is respected.

There's also the hope that more local public transport in urban areas will be allowed to reopen, subject to strict measures to limit as far as possible the risk of infection in these normally crowded spaces.

While some restrictions are slackening, fines for breaching coronavirus regulations in England will rise from £60 to £100.

The PM said the fine will double, for each infringement, reaching a maximum of £3,600.

The increase in fines "reflect the increased risk to others of breaking the rules", the document said.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know: