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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson published a 60-page document Monday detailing his roadmap on lifting lockdown measures in the United Kingdom after sparking confusion a day earlier by urging those who cannot do their jobs from home to get back to work.
The document, titled “Our Plan To Rebuild: The UK Government's Covid-19 recovery strategy," specifies that people are now permitted to visit one person outside their household – whether that be a grandparent, boyfriend or girlfriend – as long as they stay the required two meters (6.5 feet) apart and remain outdoors, The Telegraph reported.
Johnson said people should apply "good, solid British common sense" when applying the new rules. He added that wearing a face mask is encouraged in public places where social distancing proves difficult, noting that those caught without one would not be fined.
Those who break other social distancing measures could face a fine between £100 (about $123) and £3,600 (about $4,440), he said.
“Let's be absolutely clear, everybody understands what we are trying to do together,” Johnson said Monday before Parliament. “And that is working together as a country to obey the social-distancing rules, which everyone understands. This is a moment for the whole country to come together, obey those rules, and apply common sense to follow them"
In his televised statement from his office at Downing Street on Sunday, Johnson announced he would extend most of the draconian restrictions imposed on March 23 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Before the 60-page roadmap was released Monday, his remarks had sparked confusion over whether people could now meet up with friends or relatives outdoors as long as they maintained social distancing.
He said changes made to ease lockdown measures would take effect Wednesday in England and would include allowing people to come outside for an unlimited number of times, instead of just once a day, to sit or sunbathe.
Driving to a park or beach will be permitted, and golf courses and tennis courts can reopen — though people can only play sports with members of their own household.
The document states the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has found “the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside" and has been asked by ministers to further consider "whether, when and how it can safely change the regulations to allow people to expand their household group to include one other household in the same exclusive group.”
“You can only exercise with up to one person from outside your household – this means you should not play team sports, except with members of your own household," the document says.
Johnson’s strategy aims to “reduce the most harmful social effects to make the measures more sustainable.”
"In addition, the Government is also examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings,” the document says. "Over the coming weeks, the Government will engage on the nature and timing of the measures in this step, in order to consider the widest possible array of views on how best to balance the health, economic and social effects."
Critics also claimed Johnson’s speech provided confusing, hard to follow and potentially dangerous advice for employees, business owners, police and trade unions in Britain — especially in larger cities like London, where most people do not own cars and where subways are running at a fraction of capacity.
“Anyone who can’t work from home, for instance, those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work,” Johnson said in part Sunday. He added that workplaces should observe social distancing and people should avoid public transport if possible, traveling “by car or even better by walking or bicycle.”
After Johnson spoke, London Major Sadiq Khan issued a statement stressing that the lockdown had not been lifted and saying Londoners “must not use public transport for any unnecessary journeys.”
Johnson was already at odds with the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who decried his decision to replace the “Stay at Home” slogan that has been used for seven weeks with one urging people to “Stay Alert.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she didn’t know what the new advice meant and asked the U.K. government not to promote such a “vague and imprecise” message in Scotland.
Johnson also said within weeks the U.K. would impose a 14-day quarantine on people arriving by air, though it is unclear how it will be enforced. Travelers from Ireland and France will be exempt.
The prime minister, who was hospitalized last month with a serious bout of COVID-19, said if the outbreak continues to recede, primary school pupils could start to return to class beginning June 1, and some outdoor cafes and restaurants might reopen in July, along with movie theaters and places of worship.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.