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Ministers tell rubbish tips to reopen and hint garden centres will be next as they draw up lockdown 'exit plan' that could let people socialise in 10-strong 'bubbles' - but poll finds 70% of Britons want curbs to stay until coronavirus is 'fully contained'

Ministers tell rubbish tips to reopen and hint garden centres will be next as they draw up lockdown 'exit plan' that could let people socialise in 10-strong 'bubbles' - but poll finds 70% of Britons want curbs to stay until coronavirus is 'fully contained'
  • Boris Johnson is set to flesh out more details soon of how the UK could start to ease coronavirus lockdown
  • Speculation that Britons could be allowed to see family and friends in 'bubbles' of 10 to limit risk of spread
  • The government has told councils to reopen rubbish tips as soon as possible in the latest sign of movement
  • Ministers are also drawing up plans to bolster railway services as more of workforce is encouraged to return
  • Shoppers and passengers could be urged to wear homemade masks with floor marks to enforce distancing
  • Timing of an easing still highly uncertain with scientists warning small changes could spark a second peak
Ministers have told rubbish dumps to reopen and hinted that garden centres could be next amid frantic work on a coronavirus lockdown 'exit strategy' today. 
New guidance is being issued to councils on refuse and recycling sites as the government inches the country back towards a semblance of normal activity.
Garden centres and other shops where social distancing can be most enforced could follow, with Michael Gove making clear outdoor activities will be among the first unlocked because the disease 'spreads more easily inside'. 
Other ideas being mooted for an easing of the curbs include letting family and friends mix in 'bubbles' of 10 people rather than just households.  
Ministers are also drawing up plans to bolster rail services as more of the nation's workforce is encouraged to return. The government's key 'stay at home' message is expected to be overhauled to make clear people should do their jobs wherever possible. 
Travellers are likely to be urged to wear makeshift face coverings on the train, tube and bus - after Nicola Sturgeon broke ranks with the rest of the UK by changing the advice to Scots. No10 says it is not immediately proposing to change the guidance.   
However, despite mounting Tory concerns about a disastrous slump in GDP and the loss of millions of jobs, Downing Street has been playing down the prospect of decisions being taken imminently, pointing out that the next lockdown review is not due until May 7. 
A poll today suggests they will encounter significant resistance when they do try to remove the shackles, with two-third of Britons convinced restrictions should not be eased until the deadly disease has been 'fully contained'.
Support for the restrictions is stronger in the UK than 13 other major economies struggling to cope with outbreaks of the disease, the Ipsos MORI research found.    
In another desperate day in the fight against coronavirus: 
  • England, Scotland and Wales today announced a further 639 coronavirus deaths, with the official death toll now standing at 21,731 in Britain; 
  • But the coronavirus outbreak may have killed 53 per cent more people than daily statistics let on. Official data released today show that deaths outside of hospitals pushed England's death toll to 21,284 for April 17, a significant rise on the 13,917 figure previously given by the Department of Health for that date; 
  • The nation has fallen silent to pay tribute to frontline workers who have died in the fight against coronavirus; 
  • Nicola Sturgeon has broken ranks with the rest of the UK by issuing advice for people to wear face coverings when on public transport and in shops; 
  • Ministers have been holding urgent meetings with businesses that fear millions of workers will be too terrified to return to work even if the lockdown eases; 
  • Business groups have warned that government bailouts must stay in place long after the restrictions loosen to avoid thousands of firms going bust; 
  • Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been confronted over PPE shortages by the son of a doctor who died from coronavirus; 
  • An adviser to the government has suggested pubs could be reopened, but only if they ration the number of drinks for customers; 
Support for the lockdown in stronger in the UK than 14 other major economies struggling to cope with outbreaks of the disease, the Ipsos MORI research found
Support for the lockdown in stronger in the UK than 14 other major economies struggling to cope with outbreaks of the disease, the Ipsos MORI research found
Boris Johnson (pictured leading the nation's silence for frontline victims of coronavirus today) has promised to be 'transparent' about a blueprint to loosen the coronavirus lockdown after returning to work
Boris Johnson (pictured leading the nation's silence for frontline victims of coronavirus today) has promised to be 'transparent' about a blueprint to loosen the coronavirus lockdown after returning to work  
Backdated death data which includes suspected coronavirus cases and those who die outside of hospitals shows the toll of Britain's outbreak is significantly higher than Department of Health data lets on
Backdated death data which includes suspected coronavirus cases and those who die outside of hospitals shows the toll of Britain's outbreak is significantly higher than Department of Health data lets on

JOHNSON IN 'PROPERLY GOOD NICK' AS HE STORMS BACK TO WORK 

Boris Johnson was on top form as he stormed back into Downing Street and chaired a 'full' cabinet coronavirus meeting in person to the wry smiles of ministers, sources said yesterday. 
The Prime Minister, 55, ditched Zoom despite appeals from advisers to avoid appearing in person and walked confidently into a packed cabinet room for his 9.15am meeting on Monday.
Social distancing rules were 'pushed to the limit', with so many ministers back at No10, reports The Times.  
But Mr Johnson, who returned to London from his two-week stint at Chequers on Sunday, was in 'properly good nick' and looked in better shape than he was before falling ill, according to the paper. 
There was no sign of his pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds, 31, who also fell ill with the virus, but she is believed to be returning to the flat at No11 soon. 
Some watching today's war cabinet meeting told The Times the PM was 'asking very detailed questions' and 'sounded like he was very much on top of it'.   
One adviser told the paper there was 'much more energy' at this meeting than ones before Mr Johnson was struck down with a fever.   
On his first full day back in Downing Street, the Prime Minister spoke optimistically about entering a 'second phase' of the battle against the coronavirus in which some of the crippling restrictions can be relaxed.
The PM said this phase would see the Government 'continue to suppress the disease... but begin gradually to refine the economic and social restrictions, and one by one to fire up the engines of this vast UK economy'.
But he added: 'We must also recognise the risk of a second spike, the risk of losing control of that virus... because that would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster.  
Despite frantic work going on in Whitehall, the timetable for easing the curbs that are strangling the economy is far from certain. 
Scientists have been warning that even small changes could spark a deadly new peak and inflict even worse damage. 
There is little prospect of schools coming back before June - regarded by many as essential for a wide-scale reopening of UK plc. 
But the outline of the plan is emerging after the PM returned to work yesterday and braced the public for a 'new normal' which will juggle the need to revive the economy with limiting the threat of the infection running rampant again.  
Tory MP Andrew Griffith asked Mr Gove in the Commons today about reopening garden centres, warning they were 'wilting with every day of the peak growing season that they remain closed'.
Mr Gove replied: 'You make a valid point about garden centres.
'One of the things we know about this disease is that it spreads more easily inside than outside.
'As the government reflects on how to lift current restrictions that will be an important factor.'
Meanwhile, councils are being asked to plan the organised re-opening of household waste collection sites.   
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told MPs: '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 7th April and today I am announcing that I'm asking councils to plan the organised re-opening of household waste collection sites. 
'I expect this to happen over the coming weeks and will be publishing amended guidance shortly.'
Mr Jenrick thanked local government workers saying their efforts were 'making the difference in this national endeavour'.
Mr Johnson offered a glimmer of hope yesterday by saying the exit strategy will be fleshed out 'in the coming days', although No10 sources were today playing down the prospect of any major announcements this week.
He also cautioned that the UK is at a moment of 'maximum risk' and the public must be 'patient'. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said last night that there is still a 'very long way to run' in the crisis.    
Ipsos MORI surveyed 28,000 people across 14 countries between April 16 and 19.
The 70 per cent and Canada (70%), followed by Mexico (65%), Spain and Australia (61%) and the United States (59%). 
Mr Johnson was said to be in 'properly good nick' as he took the helm of government again yesterday after three weeks recovering from his own battle with the virus.

Britain should begin easing lockdown from Monday and 'see what happens', British ex-WHO advisor says 

Britain should begin easing the lockdown from next Monday then reopen pubs and schools by the end of May if there is no new large spike of cases, a former adviser has said.
Professor Karol Sikora, a cancer specialist and former WHO adviser, has warned that thousands of people could die from the disease and heart issues if the lockdown continues for much longer.
He told The Telegraph: 'As long as we don't see a second wave of the virus then we should plan for full operation by the end of May, including opening schools and even bars and pubs and with reduced social distancing.
'I would be aggressive about it. If we don't do that, more people will die from cancer and heart disease.'
Professor Sikora reiterated on BBC Breakfast this morning that 'we've got to get going again'' on cancer treatments in the health service to avoid a 'catastrophe''.
He said: 'The NHS has done fantastically well with Covid, now we have to come out of Covid mode, maintaining it, because we don't quite know what's going to happen, but let's get started on two things that are critical: cancer services and heart services. 'Those are the two key things we have to deal with urgently.'
The 55-year-old premier delivered a speech to the country on the steps of Downing Street before chairing the morning 'War Cabinet'.
Social distancing rules were 'pushed to the limit' as ministers and officials ditched video conferencing to physically attend the meeting at Number 10, according to The Times.    
During Mr Johnson's absence, his de facto deputy Dominic Raab has remained tight-lipped over an exit strategy out lockdown.
But the PM hinted at a change to the lockdown yesterday morning as he addressed the nation. 
He said the UK was nearing the end of the first phase of the crisis and would be looking at ways to 'refine' the restrictions, amid mounting Tory alarm and warnings that a third will be wiped off GDP as millions of jobs are destroyed. 
Speculation has been swirling about what could change and how quickly - although ministers have apparently been advised that nothing major can be done until the UK has capacity to test everyone with symptoms and 'track and trace' who they have been in contact with.
That would require the estimated number of cases to be around 100,000 - a third of the current level - and the government to reach its target of carrying out 100,000 tests a day.  
Danny Altmann, Professor of Immunology at Imperial College London, told the Commons Science and Technology Committee today that he would be 'terribly worried' about lifting lockdown measures with no or limited knowledge of the population's immunity against coronavirus.
He said: 'As an immunologist and knowing how desperately lethal this virus can be, I'd be very worried about any assumptions on those grounds - terribly worried.'
He added: 'For a virus we've known about since January, it's been a very steep learning curve.' 
However, despite the concerns work is continuing at pace in Whitehall over options for loosening curbs. 
Business Secretary Alok Sharma has been holding meetings with sectors of the economy, the CBI and trade unions to consider the next moves.  
Concerns have been raised by officials that many workers will be reluctant to return even when the government gives the green light, according to the Guardian.
Measures being discussed to ease the anxiety include the use of face masks and hand sanitiser on public transport, and revised operating procedures for building sites - many of which have already started operating again.
Of one of the most eye-catching plans to insist on masks, a Whitehall source told the Telegraph: 'The plan for masks will be more than a recommendation. It is more of a compulsion for them to be worn in shops and on public transport. 

UK announces 639 more coronavirus victims pushing the official death toll to 21,731 as non-hospital statistics suggest Britain's true figure may be 55% higher 

England, Scotland and Wales today announced a further 639 coronavirus deaths, with the official death toll now standing at 21,731 in Britain. 
NHS England declared 552 more fatalities, Scotland 70 and Wales 17. Northern Ireland has yet to release its daily update. And the Department of Health, which collates hospital deaths across the UK to provide a daily snapshot of Britain's COVID-19 crisis, has yet to confirm the final number.
But a shock report today revealed the real death toll may be 55 per cent higher than the daily updates given by the Department of Health because they don't include people dying outside of hospitals and don't take into account a lag in how fatalities are recorded. 
Weekly data collated by the Office for National Statistics shows that there had been 22,351 coronavirus deaths in England and Wales by April 17 - a significant rise on the 14,451 counted by health chiefs. If the same increase - 54.6 per cent - were applied to the total UK death toll confirmed today (21,731) it could mean the real number of victims is in the region of 33,600.
ONS data, which is released each week and offers the only true picture on how many people have died outside of hospitals, recorded 3,096 COVID-19 care home deaths by April 17. This was almost triple the 1,043 total announced the week before, with 2,000 new fatalities in the space of a week. 
Many of those who die outside of hospitals are not tested for the coronavirus while alive, meaning this data shows Britain's outbreak is much larger than it appears. Some are never officially diagnosed and are only suspected to have had the illness.
So many people are being killed by the virus that the week from April 11 to 17 was the deadliest for England and Wales since records began in 1993 and had a death toll (22,351) more than double the yearly average (10,497). Four out of every 10 people who died in that week were infected with coronavirus.
'On social distancing, transport bosses will need to have two-metre markers in place so people can safely keep their distance.'  
Weekly data released today showed that deaths outside of hospitals pushed England's death toll to 21,284 for April 17, a significant rise on the 13,917 announced on that date by the Department of Health.
If the same increase - 52.9 per cent - were applied to the total death toll announced yesterday (21,092) it could mean the real number of victims is 32,249.
Office for National Statistics data, which gives a weekly picture of how many people have died outside of hospitals, recorded 3,096 care home deaths in the week from April 11 to April 17. This was almost triple the 1,043 announced the week before. 
Many of those who die outside of hospitals are not tested for the coronavirus while alive, meaning this data shows Britain's outbreak is much larger than it appears. Some are never officially diagnosed and are only suspected to have had the illness.
So many people are being killed by the virus that that week, from April 11 to 17, was the deadliest since records began in 1993 and had a death toll (22,351) more than double the yearly average (10,497).
The World Health Organization has warned that half of COVID-19 deaths happening in Europe are taking place in nursing homes, and the UK's count is rising fast.
British officials have faced heavy criticism for not offering enough support to the sector and chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance said they were warned 'very early on'.
In his first public appearance since he was hospitalised with coronavirus, Mr Johnson said he had been 'away from my desk for much longer than I would've liked'. 
He said: 'Once again I want to thank you the people of this country for the sheer grit and guts you've shown and are continuing to show.
'Every day I know that this virus brings new sadness and mourning to households across the land.'
Mr Johnson said: 'It is still true that this is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war and I in no way minimise the continuing problems we face.
'And yet it is also true that we are making progress with fewer hospital admissions, fewer Covid patients in ICU and real signs now that we are passing through the peak.
'And thanks to your forbearance, your good sense your altruism, your spirit of community, thanks to our collective national resolve, we are on the brink of achieving that first clear mission to prevent our National Health Service from being overwhelmed in a way that tragically we have seen elsewhere.
'And that is how and why we are now beginning to turn the tide.' 
Mr Johnson, drawing on his own battle with Covid-19 which put him in intensive care, said: 'If this virus were a physical assailant, an unexpected and invisible mugger - which I can tell you from personal experience, it is - then this is the moment when we have begun together to wrestle it to the floor.
'And so it follows that this is the moment of opportunity, this is the moment when we can press home our advantage, it is also the moment of maximum risk.
'I know there will be many people looking at our apparent success, and beginning to wonder whether now is the time to go easy on those social distancing measures.'
Public transport routes have been operating a significantly cut-back timetable and officials are reportedly mulling how to expand services while maintaining social distancing. Pictured, commuters on the Tube today
Public transport routes have been operating a significantly cut-back timetable and officials are reportedly mulling how to expand services while maintaining social distancing. Pictured, commuters on the Tube today
Nicola Sturgeon breaks ranks with Boris Johnson AGAIN by declaring that Scots SHOULD wear face coverings on public transport and in shops 
Nicola Sturgeon broke ranks with Boris Johnson again today by declaring that Scots should wear face coverings on public transport and in shops.
The Scottish First Minister said she was now advising people to use makeshift masks - although she stressed that medical-grade coverings should be left for health workers.
The move came despite the PM having yet to make any announcement on whether the items should be used in enclosed spaces.
It is the latest sign of splits in the UK position - after Ms Sturgeon previously issued a 'framework' for easing lockdown despite Westminster refusing to give any details. 
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was now advising people to use makeshift masks - although she stressed that medical-grade coverings should be left for health workers
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was now advising people to use makeshift masks - although she stressed that medical-grade coverings should be left for health workers
Masks have become a common sight in cities across the UK. Picture is London this morning
Masks have become a common sight in cities across the UK. Picture is London this morning
Ms Sturgeon told the media briefing in Edinburgh today: 'We are recommending that you do wear a cloth face covering if you are in an enclosed space with others where social distancing is difficult, for example public transport or in a shop.' 
She insisted there was no need to wear masks routinely outside, except in 'unavoidable crowded situations'.  
She said face coverings were 'not a substitute' for hand hygiene and other advice on reducing the risk of spread.    
A Downing Street spokesman made clear there is no immediate announcement expected in London.
'Sage's recommendation has been sent to ministers who are considering the advice they have been given. Once a decision has been reached we will announce it publicly,' the PM's spokesman said. 
Ms Sturgeon responded angrily on Twitter to claims she was trying to 'embarrass' Mr Johnson by announcing the guidance first. 
'I'm just trying to do my job - as every other government is. This tendency to read malign motives when all any of us is trying to do is tackle the virus as best we can, is tedious and misplaced,' she said. 
Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething also dismissed calls to issue guidance on face coverings immediately.  
'If we do give formal guidance that people should wear a covering over their face, we need to understand what that means about the way the public will then behave,' he said,
'We also need to be particularly cognisant of the potential for people trying to acquire masks that would otherwise be used by health and care professionals. 
The new policy from Ms Sturgeon appears to contradict earlier advice from Scotland's national clinical director. Professor Jason Leitch, who said on April 3: 'The global evidence - and we've looked properly, I promise you - is that masks in the general population don't work. 
'People don't wear them properly, they're hard, they're difficult, they're uncomfortable.' 
Ms Sturgeon said the new guidance is related to 'face coverings made of cloth or other textiles, such as a scarf' and not medical-grade masks. 
She said: 'The guidance we are publishing today firstly makes clear the most important step we can all take to prevent transmission of the virus is to comply with the current stay at home social distancing and hygiene rules.' 
The move came despite Boris Johnson (pictured in Downing Street today) having yet to make any announcement on whether the items should be used in enclosed spaces
The First Minister said face coverings are 'not a substitute for that', adding the evidence on their use is 'still limited'. 
But she said the guidance 'recognises there maybe some benefit in wearing a face covering if you leave the house and enter an enclosed space where you will come into contact with multiple people and safe social distancing is difficult, for example on public transport or in shops'. 
With most shops closed at the moment, Ms Sturgeon said this will apply 'in particular' to food shops. 
'To be clear, the benefit comes mainly in cases where someone might have the virus but isn't aware of that because they are not experiencing any symptoms,' she said. 
'Wearing a face covering in these circumstances may reduce the chance of that person transmitting the virus on to others. 
'So the Scottish Government is now recommending the use of face coverings in these limited circumstances, as a precautionary measure'. 
She said because the evidence is 'at this stage relatively weak' it is not mandatory to do so. 

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