Health Secretary Matt Hancock has denied the government’s new coronavirus guidance is confusing as he urged Britons to apply the “straightforward” rules with “common sense”.
The government has relaxed some lockdown measures in England, which means people can now meet one member of a different household outside.
This is provided they stay two metres away from each other at all times.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are yet to lift restrictions
Mr Hancock explained how people in England could now meet a different person – individually – in a park every day, as he explained how “being outside is safer than being inside”, although he warned it is “not zero risk”.
“We are making some baby steps, some relaxations but we’re doing it very, very carefully – because we don’t want the R rate to get above one and infections get out of control again”, the health secretary told Sky News’ Kay Burley @ Breakfast show.
The government is not yet allowing people to see family members in their gardens or houses, although cleaners and carers can continue to be employed.
Challenged over whether it was confusing for people that they couldn’t welcome their grandchildren or other family members into their home, but could allow their cleaners or carers into their houses, Mr Hancock disagreed.
“The principles are really clear and the public have been really sensible so far,” he said.
“This is why an appeal to people’s common sense is very, very sensible in and of itself.
“The great British public have really understood what social distancing means, why we need to do it – sadly, no one wants social distancing rules, but they are important.
“The principles are: outside is better than inside, stay two metres away, wash your hands and clean the surfaces and see as few people as you can outside of your household, because that’s how the virus spreads.
“But we do also, at the same time, need to get people back to work.”
The health secretary added: “This is all about applying straightforward rules with common sense, based on the facts about this disease which we do know – like that it spreads less outside, but still does.”
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Mr Hancock also explained why the government is now recommending people wear face coverings on public transport or some shops – although not in offices or schools.
“There is some evidence – it’s weak – but there is some evidence that a face covering can help if you’re at an indoor place where there are other people who you don’t see regularly,” he said.
“If you’re stuck in an office with them for a long time a face covering doesn’t help, or in a school, for instance.
“That’s why we don’t recommend them for offices or schools.
“But, for instance, if you’re on public transport you might be in the vicinity of somebody for a period of time – maybe 15 or 20 minutes – where a face covering can help.”