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Outdoor gatherings could restart before pubs reopen as coronavirus lockdown is eased

People may be allowed outdoor exercise more often.
People may be allowed outdoor exercise more often.

The UK Government has refused to rule out outdoor gatherings being reintroduced ahead of pubs reopening when lockdown restrictions are finally eased.

Standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Saturday’s Covid-19 briefing in Downing Street, UK housing secretary Robert Jenrick said scientific evidence pointing to transmission rates being “significantly less” outdoors would play a part in the government’s plan on how to move forward.

Asked whether mass gatherings could go-ahead before pubs reopen as part of an easing of lockdown restrictions, the MP said the the moment “has not yet come” to reopen bars or allow outdoor events to go ahead.

However he confirmed: “It is right to say that the rate of transmission is significantly less outdoors than indoors, so when it is right to ease lockdown measures that will be a factor that we take into consideration.”

He added: “The prime minister has said now that we have passed the peak of the virus. It is the right time for us to establish how we should be reopening as a country in the next phase.

Boris Johnson drawing up ‘road map’ to ease lockdown, kick-start economy and reopen schools

“We are thinking about different settings – whether your workplace, public transport, schools or outdoors – and what sort of steps might members of the public, families and employers need when it is right to ease these restrictions in these particular settings.”

He said he couldn’t go into any further details on the potential easing lockdown restrictions – which will be the subject of a plan revealed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson next week.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries said: “The virus itself will not survive as long in the outdoor environment. Generally outdoor environments are safer but it depends how you go to your outdoor environment and what you do.”

She said transmission of the virus outdoors would depend on whether you went out as part of a “family unit and sit in one place” or with “a whole load of friends you haven’t seen from before lockdown and sit in a pub”

On the latter she said: “That is really not a good thing to do.”

The prime minister has promised to deliver a “comprehensive plan” next week to set out “how we can get our economy moving”, how people might travel to work and how children can go back to school or into childcare.

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