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Day 59: Key points from today's conference

Posted on May 2020 By Aaron Liffen

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Today's government coronavirus conference was led by Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick, who was joined by Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jenny Harries. It comes on the day some of the lockdown restrictions have been officially eased, including being able to return to work, should working from home not be an option.

The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, across all settings, has risen by 494 to 33,186. Another 3,242 people have also tested positive for the disease, according to the latest government figures.

Key points to take away from today's speech are:

  • Jenrick cautions social distancing is still "critical" to lowering that risk level. 

  • Jenrick provides further detail on what is and isn't allowed across the UK at present.

  • Jenrick says the UK government wants to "cautiously open up parts of our economy where it's safe to do so".

  • Jenrick says anyone can move house who follows the new guidance published on - instead of it having to be absolutely necessary. People were stuck with "serious legal, financial and health implications" in their old properties "in limbo" but can now "add some certainty to their lives", he explains.

  • When a viewing goes ahead, the housing secretary says all internal doors should be kept open, the current occupant should vacate the property for the duration of the viewing and everyone should wash their hands upon entering the property. Then when the viewing is finished all surfaces and door handles must be cleaned.

  • Jenrick announces there will be more-flexible working hours on construction sites - with local consent. Sites can apply to extend working hours to 9pm Monday-Saturday in residential areas and further in non-residential areas, he says. 

  • Dr Harries takes over to walk us through some of the data - she says there have been more than 2 million tests so far. Remember though that includes tests sent out, not returned. 

  • Dr Harries says there is a "huge amount of work still" for NHS staff to deal with the numbers of people still in hospital with the virus. 

  • Dr Harries says while there's "some variation", "everywhere" across the UK has seen a peak, plateau and general trend downward of people in hospital with COVID-19.

  • When asked on 'social bubbles' in which two households can meet us one, Jenrick confirms that idea isn't part of the announcement but reiterates that people can meet up with one person from outside their household so long as they socially distance. 

  • Jenrick says it's "essential" care homes are given the support they need and deserve, reiterating the £600m pledged for them that will trickle through from councils. He says he wants to see less rotation of agency staff, enough PPE given to workers and named contacts within councils for care homes to contact for support.

  • Jenrick says the latest funding pledge builds on £3.2bn given to local councils - 90% of which has gone to those with responsibilities for adult social care.

  • The government wants to ensure care homes are "financially sustainable" and that care homes have the PPE and testing they need.

To read a brief summary of last night's points and important measures click here.