Coronavirus: Rubbish dumps should be reopened in coming weeks, says minister

Decorated rubbish bins showing support for the NHS and staying at home in Poole, Dorset (Getty Images)

Rubbish dumps closed because of the coronavirus pandemic should be reopened in the coming weeks, the government has said.

Councils will be asked to plan the organised reopening of household waste collection sites, communities minister Robert Jenrick said.

On Monday, Downing Street said Boris Johnson will set out the details of how he plans to ease the lockdown later this week.

Refuse collectors have continued to work during the coronavirus pandemic. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Jenrick said: “Our bin men and women have done a fantastic job maintaining the vast majority of collections.

“The government published advice to councils on how to ensure the safety of refuse collections on 7 April and today I am announcing that I’m asking councils to plan the organised reopening of household waste collection sites.

“I expect this to happen over the coming weeks and will be publishing amended guidance shortly.”

The government is under increasing pressure to publish its plan for easing social distancing measures, as employers and businesses feel the financial pain of the pandemic.

Under its “stay at home” rules, people should only go outside for food, health reasons, one form of exercise or work (and only if they cannot work from home). If people do go outside, they should stay two metres apart from others.

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Returning to work after being hospitalised for coronavirus, Johnson warned that lifting measures too soon could lead to a “huge loss of life”.

Johnson has said the government's five tests must be met before measures are eased.

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The five tests are: making sure the NHS can cope; a consistent fall in the daily death rate; the rate of infection dropping; ensuring there are enough tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet future demand and ruling out the risk of a second outbreak.

On Tuesday, health secretary Matt Hancock said he does not think there is "lockdown fatigue" or an appetite for an exit route among the public.

A poll conducted at the end of last week revealed that Britons are overwhelmingly in favour of the lockdown but worry it will be eased too soon.

“If you look at how much the public are following the measures, the public are following the lockdown brilliantly," said Hancock.

"There's a media debate about it and I understand that. But actually the proportion of the public who support the lockdown remains absolutely solid.

"The number of people who are following the rules remains incredibly high. The number of people who are taking journeys, for instance, has barely changed on three weeks ago."

However, he said there are also "clear consequences of the lockdown".

Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, told the Commons science and technology committee he would be "terribly worried" about lifting lockdown measures with no or limited knowledge of the population's immunity against coronavirus.

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