21:08 GMT20 October 2020
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    Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a ‘conditional plan’ on Sunday to begin relaxing England’s lockdown measures. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have powers over their own lockdowns and are not following this plan.

    The UK government has advised that people in England should wear face coverings while on public transport and in certain shops from Wednesday. 

    On Monday afternoon the government released a 50-page document that outlines the planned timetable for lifting national Covid-19 restrictions.

    Entitled "Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK government's Covid-19 recovery strategy", the guidelines urge those who are beginning to return to work and travel to wear face coverings to help reduce the risk of transmission.

    "As more people return to work, there will be more movement outside people's immediate household", the document says.

    "This increased mobility means the government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops."

    Despite offering no protection to the wearer, it does help prevent "against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically".

    ​According to the Guardian, the chief medical officer for England, Prof Chris Whitty, stressed that face coverings were “not a substitute” for physical distancing and urged the public not to buy surgical or medical masks, needed for frontline carers, but to rely on scarves or DIY-type masks instead.

    The public should also wash their clothes regularly, the advice suggests, “as there is some evidence that the virus can stay on fabrics”.

    Other countries have already introduced rules about wearing face masks. Advice in Wales and Northern Ireland has not changed and face coverings have not yet been recommended for the general public.

    Indicative Roadmap Plan

    From Wednesday, people in England will also be allowed to meet one person from outside their household as long as they stay outdoors and stay 2m apart, the advice says.

    Sage, the government's group of scientific advisers, say the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside, according to the document.

    The guidance also sets out the government's three step ‘indicative roadmap’ plan.

    The first step of this plan is to actively encourage people who cannot work from home to return to work from this Wednesday.

    The second step, which will potentially begin from 1 June will see some schools and businesses begin to re-open.

    Some sporting and cultural events will be allowed to take place behind closed doors.

    The third step which will start no earlier than 4 July will see some remaining businesses including hairdressers, cinemas and pubs re-open.

    ​All dates could be delayed if not enough progress is made in tackling the virus - and restrictions could be reintroduced, the guidance says.

    At the time of publication, a further 210 people have died in the UK after testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of recorded deaths to 32,065.

    coronavirus, COVID-19, lockdown, face covering, face, United Kingdom
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