LONDON, May 10 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed his government's approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in the next phase in his address to the nation Sunday evening.
The prime minister said that the government has a plan to ease lockdown, but "it is a conditional plan," and since "our priority is to protect the public and save lives, we cannot move forward unless we satisfy the five tests."
The five tests previously set out by the government include: protect the NHS (National Health Service), see sustained falls in the death rate, see sustained and considerable falls in the rate of infection, sort out the challenges in getting enough PPE (personal protective equipment) to the people who need it, make sure that any measures the government takes do not force the reproduction rate of the disease, or the R, back up over one.
This is "not the time simply to end the lockdown this week," instead "we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures," and "the first step is a change of emphasis that we hope that people will act on this week," said Johnson.
The government previously said people should work from home if they can, and only go to work if they must.
"We now need to stress that anyone who cannot work from home -- for instance, those in construction or manufacturing -- should be actively encouraged to go to work," said Johnson.
"And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible -- because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited," said Johnson.
From May 13, the government wants to "encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise," according to Johnson.
"You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household," said Johnson.
However, he also cautioned: "You must obey the rules on social distancing, and to enforce those rules, we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them."
In step two, at the earliest by June 1, "we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year one and Year six," said Johnson.
As for step three, at the earliest by July and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice, "if and only if the numbers support it, we will hope to reopen at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing," according to the prime minister.
Meanwhile, the government is also establishing a new COVID-19 alert system run by a joint biosecurity center. The alert level "will tell us how tough we have to be in our social distancing measures -- the lower the level, the fewer the measures," according to Johnson.
"I know that we can use this plan to get us through the next," and "if we can't do it by those dates, and if the alert level won't allow it, we will simply wait and go on until we have got it right," said Johnson.