The next steps in the UK’s lockdown plan are becoming clearer after the British Government indicated it would reopen garden centres, encourage commuters to use bikes and potentially quarantine foreign visitors.
A report by The Times suggested those visiting the UK will have to fill in a digital form and declare an address where they will then be expected to self-isolate for 14 days.
Travellers could face fines of up to £1,000 and even deportation if spot checks later find they have flouted the rules, which the report claimed could be introduce in June.
Briefing reporters on Friday, No.10 Downing Street confirmed quarantining foreign visitors was being “looked at” as a way of guarding the country against a second peak in the transmission rate.
We have to be realistic that there isn’t going to be any dramatic overnight change, we will be very, very cautious as we loosen the restrictions
The UK Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I think ministers have said the issue of looking to ensure, as we really drive down transmission in the UK, that we are able to ensure the virus is not being brought into the country from overseas is one they are actively considering.”
The strict clampdown is set to be part of a “road map” revealed by the Prime Minister during his address to the nation on Sunday evening in which he will set out the stages for lifting the lockdown.
Boris Johnson will also recommend workers wear masks when they do return to work and when using public transport, The Daily Telegraph reported.
It has been confirmed to the PA news agency that Mr Johnson will announce that garden centres will be allowed to open their doors to customers from Wednesday May 13.
Nursery bosses will have to ensure shoppers obey social distancing measures, such as keeping two metres away from others, and will be expected to put restrictions in place, including queuing systems and installing Perspex shields to protect till staff, in a similar way to supermarkets.
A senior UK Government source said: “Garden centres are typically open large open-air spaces where the risk of transmission of coronavirus is lower.
“With strict social distancing measures in place we believe they can open safely from next week.”
And it is understood ministers are preparing to recommend that commuters use their bicycles for journeys to work, in a bid to reduce the number of people using public transport.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is set to use his appearance at the Downing Street briefing on Saturday to unveil a further £250 million for extra cycle lanes, while trials on the use of e-scooters on British roads are due to be fast-tracked, PA understands.
Meanwhile, UK Environment Secretary George Eustice reiterated calls for people to stay at home for the remainder of the bank holiday weekend and to respect social distancing rules.
The call comes despite Met Office predictions that Saturday could be the hottest day of the year, with temperatures likely to hit 26C (78.8F).
In related news:
– Ministers looked to downplay differences emerging between UK nations on lockdown measures, stating there was no “need to get too worked up about timings of different announcements”.
– Mr Eustice looked to temper expectations before the PM’s Sunday announcement, warning there would be no “dramatic overnight change” to the restrictions in England.
– NHS England on Friday said a six-week-old baby with underlying health problems had died after testing positive for the virus, believed to be the youngest known victim in the UK, as the total number of deaths in all settings hit 31,241.
– The UK Government confirmed it had missed its 100,000 daily testing target for the sixth day in a row, carrying out 97,029 tests in the 24 hours to 9am on Friday.
– McDonald’s drive-thru restaurants, which are starting to reopen, were branded as being “made for the social distancing situation we are in” by Mr Eustice.
Mr Eustice, facing questioning on Friday, said the UK was still “not out of the woods” when it came to the coronavirus threat.