A Labour MP has said the prime minister is “playing Russian roulette” with the public after announcing the next phase of easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England.
During Thursday’s press conference, Boris Johnson confirmed groups of six people from different households will be now able to meet outdoors from Monday, when schools can partially reopen and some non-essential shops will start trading.
It comes as part of Johnson’s three-stage COVID-19 strategy to lifting lockdown in England, with the second phase scheduled to begin on Monday.
However, former Labour leadership contender Richard Burgon criticised the government’s plan to start easing restrictions further.
The Prime Minister is playing Russian roulette with people's lives.— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) May 28, 2020
The MP for Leeds East tweeted: “The prime minister is playing Russian roulette with people's lives.”
Others took aim at Johnson’s decision to enter the second phase of lifting lockdown restrictions.
Former Labour MP Alistair Campbell tweeted: ‘Up to six people can meet in the garden!’ @BorisJohnson Clearly not been to any parks or beaches - big groups already happening.”
Piers Morgan wrote: “Somebody ask Boris Johnson why he is easing lockdown measures when UK death toll is increasing week-on-week?”
‘Up to six people can meet in the garden!’ @BorisJohnson Clearly not been to any parks or beaches - big groups already happening. But at least he will get his ‘HURRAH’ headline in the @Daily_Express ! Mind you he could have said the sun is shining and would have got that— ALASTAIR CAMPBELL (@campbellclaret) May 28, 2020
Somebody ask Boris Johnson why he is easing lockdown measures when UK death toll is increasing week-on-week?— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 28, 2020
However, Conservative MPs welcomed the news.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our national effort has played a vital part in protecting our NHS & enabling new adjustments to lockdown from Monday, including 6 people meeting - 2 metres apart - outside.”
Our national effort has played a vital part in protecting our NHS & enabling new adjustments to lockdown from Monday, including 6 people meeting - 2 metres apart - outside 👇 https://t.co/ElJUVjQ63q— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) May 28, 2020
During his daily press conference, Johnson said people should “try to avoid seeing too many households in quick succession so we can avoid the risk of quick transmission from lots of different families and continue to control the virus”.
He added: “It remains the case that people should not be inside the homes of their friends and families, unless it is to access the garden.
“I should add that, at this stage, I am afraid that those who have been asked to shield themselves should continue to do so.”
Johnson confirmed the government’s five tests for easing lockdown in England had been met and helped to inform today’s decision.
The PM said guidance on the changes will be published, adding: “Inevitably there may be some anomalies, or apparent inconsistencies, in these rules – and clearly what we’re proposing is still just a fraction of the social interaction each of us would normally enjoy.
“I know many of you will find this frustrating and I am sorry about that. But I’m afraid it is unavoidable, given the nature of the invisible enemy we are fighting.”