The NHS Confederation has warned the health service and the care system must ‘remain alert and cautious’ as coronavirus lockdown regulations start to ease.
The government made a series of announcements yesterday (29 May) about the relaxing the restrictions currently in place.
These include confirmation that groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday (1 June), including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.
Primary schools will welcome back children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on 1 June, and nurseries and other early years settings will be reopened.
And outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, provided they meet COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.
In Scotland, two households will be allowed to meet in outdoor spaces from today up to a suggested maximum of eight people.
But the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, Niall Dickson warned against complacency.
‘Everyone will welcome some easing of lockdown measures in England and in the other parts of the UK,’ said Mr Dickson.
‘But the health service and the care system remain alert and cautious.
‘Staff are still struggling with large numbers of very sick Covid patients and our whole system has been turned upside down by the virus,’ he added.
‘Moving back to normality will be nothing like flicking a switch. We face a long and difficult struggle to manage services, not just over the next few months but long afterwards into what is likely to be a very difficult winter.
‘The immediate priority is to prevent another surge. We welcome the new NHS Test and Trace service in England which will be indispensable in stamping out new outbreaks by combining national and local contact tracing,’ said Mr Dickson.
‘But no-one should be in any doubt that there is little room for manoeuvre and the risk of another major outbreak remains. The new Test and Trace service will take a little time to bed down and we must be vigilant everywhere.’
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