London, Mar 28 (PTI) Scotland Yard on Sunday urged the public to remain cautious as the UK is set for its next step in easing the strict stay-at-home lockdown to control the spread of Covid-19 from Monday, when groups of up to six or two separate households will be allowed to meet outdoors.
People will also be allowed to take part in formally organised outdoor sport and other outdoor activities, such as tennis or open-air swimming.
However, large gatherings, unless certain exemptions apply, will remain unlawful and the Metropolitan Police is warning that it will continue to respond quickly to any illegal parties as they continue to pose a risk of spreading the deadly virus.
“We welcome the limited relaxation of rules on Monday and thank everyone who has played a vital part in making this happen. By staying at home, it has meant the infection rate has dropped, and some freedoms can once again return,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors, leading the Met Police’s strategic response to Covid-19.
“But we must not let Monday’s news distract us, or usher in any complacency. The risk of Covid-19 has not vanished and people across London continue to be infected with this deadly disease. Wherever possible, we should continue to be vigilant, minimise our contact as much as possible, wear a face covering where required and keep ourselves safe. That means avoiding any large gathering,” she said.
“We will continue to respond quickly to house parties or dangerous raves, taking enforcement action by handing out fines. We make no apology for our tough stance on shutting down those large gatherings which risk public safety,” she added.
The Met said its officers will remain highly visible across communities, including open spaces, as the restrictions ease and will clamp down on any house party or an unlicensed music event where large numbers of people have gathered together, often in tightly compacted venues or dangerously derelict buildings, putting lives at risk.
Monday’s lockdown easing forms part of the roadmap set by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with the next stage of further relaxations allowing restaurants to serve customers outdoors expected from April 12.
The government has not changed official advice which says that people should work from home if possible.
The issue is the subject of a government review and no changes are expected in the coming weeks, despite falls in Covid-19 hospital admissions and death rates over recent weeks.
Ministers have also insisted that despite a shortfall in vaccine supplies expected in the coming weeks, the National Health Service (NHS) remains on track to vaccinate all adults against Covid-19 by its end-July target.
The Moderna vaccine is expected to join the current rollout of Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxfrd/AstraZeneca vaccines as a third option from next month.
Official statistics show the number of people to have received a first dose of either the Pfizer or the Oxford jabs has passed 30 million, but vaccine supply issues have caused concerns even as the European Union (EU) complained of shortages and threatened export blocks. The delay of a shipment of doses of Covishield, being produced in tie-up with AstraZeneca by the Serum Institute of India, has also been blamed for supply issues in the UK. PTI AK RUP RUP