Revealed: Boris Johnson's plans to overhaul public areas to conform to new social distancing lockdown rules

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
A general view of a footpath in Hove Park, near Brighton, as the UK continues in lockdown. (PA)

Britain’s public areas face a major overhaul under government plans to get the country out of the coronavirus lockdown.

New rules on what people can and cannot do in England have come into force on Wednesday as the government eases restrictions.

Among the changes are that people are allowed to take unlimited exercise outside with one person from another household, and driving to outdoor spaces is also permitted – while security “will be quick to step in” if they witness any deviation from the rules.

The limited relaxations are a precursor to how Boris Johnson intends transform public places so the country can stick to the new social distancing rules.

Boris Johnson has announced plans to change lockdown rules. (AP)

Plan to rebuild

The government’s document, titled Our Plan To Rebuild, sets out a path for people to remain as separate from others as possible.

Among the plans are to either fully pedestrianise high streets or only allow a flow of one-way traffic.

Shoppers would also have specific entrances and exits to shops, while temporary barriers or spray markings outside shops would be introduced to support queuing.

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Car parking layouts would also change to lower the risk of close contact with others.

Roads and parks could see new cycle paths introduced to encourage travelling shorter distances without using public transport, while signs on footpaths would encourage people to wait and allow others to pass.

A man wearing a face mask shops in Portobello Road, west London, as the UK continues in lockdown. (PA)

Lockdown changes

People in England are now able to exercise more than once a day and with one person who is not from their household, so long as social distancing requirements are still met.

Golf courses, outdoor tennis and basketball courts can be used, and people can also swim in lakes and the sea.

A man prepares for the reopening of tennis courts in Hove Park, near Brighton. (PA)

However, gathering with more than one member of another household is still forbidden, along with swimming in a public pool, using a playground or outdoor gym, and exercising in indoor leisure centres or facilities.

Driving to outdoor open spaces, either alone or with members of your household is allowed, as well as travelling to beaches or beauty spots in England. Similarly, travelling to the countryside is also permitted – but regulations against going on holiday or staying overnight at a holiday home or second home still apply.

Going for a picnic, sunbathing and relaxing in a public place is now allowed in England, while people can also fishing on their own, or with one other person while adhering to social distancing rules.

People are not allowed to visit the homes of friends and family – unless it is for care and medical reasons, or to take a child to another household with whom parental responsibilities are shared.

Visiting a private or ticketed attraction is also not permitted.

Police officers in a patrol car move sunbathers on in Greenwich Park, London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Enforcing the rules

While rules have been relaxed, park rangers and security will “step in” if social distancing measures are ignored at open spaces, according to the boss of London’s Olympic Park.

Visitors will be watched closely, with many expected to flock to parks and recreational areas following the government’s relaxation of the “stay local” message.

Mark Camley, executive director of parks and venues at the London Legacy Development Corporation, which runs the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London, has urged people not to travel far and to enjoy the outdoor spaces nearby.

Speaking on behalf of London’s major park authorities, Camley said the police may get involved if people continually ignore the two-metre distancing advice.

He said: “We are really relying on people to use their own common sense, but some will ignore the advice unfortunately, and we will be deploying security and park rangers where necessary to step in and have a quiet word reminding those to stay apart.

“If there are major issues, I think parks would not hesitate in getting the police involved, but we don’t want to get to that, we really want people to use their common sense.”

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