Boris Johnson 'could allow people to meet in small groups outdoors'

Boris Johnson is considering whether lockdown restrictions could be relaxed to allow small groups of people to meet outdoors, his official spokesman said on Tuesday.

Ministers are confident the UK is past the peak of the outbreak and have begun drawing up plans for the eventual lifting of the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Downing Street indicated that ‘easements’ were being considered – along with possible tightening of rules in other areas.

The existing lockdown restrictions are expected to remain in place following a review of the evidence due to be carried out by Thursday, but Mr Johnson is expected to set out a ‘roadmap’ of future steps later in the week.

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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – who has been closely involved in UK-wide decision-making through the Cobra system – set out her own blueprint for lifting the lockdown on Tuesday.

Among measures under consideration in Scotland were the prospect of joining a social ‘bubble’ – a small, defined groups of friends and family from different households – for gatherings, even if that was only possible outdoors.

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The Prime Minister’s spokesman confirmed the possibility of easing restrictions outdoors was also under consideration in Westminster.

He said: ‘Broadly the scientific and medical experts have been clear that there is less likelihood of transmission of this disease outdoors than indoors.

‘That will obviously be something we are considering as part of the review.’

Downing Street said that any easing of measures could only take place once they were sure it would not lead to a second peak in the disease.

The spokesman said: ‘We need to be guided by scientific advice and by that key consideration which is that we cannot do anything which we believe would lead to the R – rate of transmission – going above one.

‘We would have to ensure that any steps that we take don’t risk a second peak which might overwhelm the NHS and throw away all of the sacrifice that has been made by the British public so far.’

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