Portsmouth shoppers asked to wear face masks and lovers consider wedding plans as government announces lockdown changes

WEDDINGS, shopping and business reopenings have all been put under the microscope todaynote-0, after the government announced further plans to ease lockdown restrictions.

By David George and Millie Salkeld
Monday, 11th May 2020, 5:38 pm
Updated Monday, 11th May 2020, 6:11 pm

Following prime minister Boris Johnson’s televised address on Sunday evening, which outlined the ‘first cautious steps’, the government has today issued more information about the potential changes that could be introduced, as the journey begins on the long road back to normality.

Chief among these changes is the call for members of the public to wear face masks when they go shopping or use public transport, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his statement to the House of Commons on Covid-19. Picture: PA Wire

It comes as some people are encouraged to return to work and the restriction on the number of daily outings is lifted on Wednesday.

Gosport shopkeeper Supriya Namdeo, from the Premier in Wych Lane, says elderly people are already wearing facial protection – but we must all follow suit to beat the virus.

‘Wearing a facemask is always a very good idea,’ she said.

‘I’ve seen a lot of people wearing them already which is very encouraging; it's mostly the elderly, who are concerned about their safety and the health of others.

‘Families aren’t wearing them as much, so I’m glad the government is asking people to do it because it will keep everyone safe.’

The Covid-19 document, published by the government today, has also suggested that non-essential retail, such as clothes and book shops, could be allowed to open in June if they can prove to keep shoppers safe.

Hampshire’s Chamber of Commerce, which provides services and support to businesses in the town, is calling for a gradual approach to reopening.

Chief executive Ross McNally, said: ‘It will be sensible to consider re-opening provided effective and reasonable social distancing can be put in place for customers and staff.

‘Businesses need to be able to get back on track but must do that in line with public health advice to follow a gradual, step-by-step approach.’

One of the other major changes announced was to weddings.

Currently, all wedding ceremonies have been put on hold, with thousands across the UK seeing their big day postponed.

Now, small weddings could go ahead next month, subject to safety conditions being met.

Lauren Parker-Gould, 24 from Waterlooville, was set to marry insurance broker Samuel James last month.

Now, their wedding has been pushed back to October.

She said: ‘Our plan was to have 50 day guests and 80 guests in the evening.

‘I think whether people want small weddings depends on what the government’s definition of small actually is – if it is just the couple and two witnesses I wouldn’t be keen myself.

‘Weddings obviously aren’t about how many people turn up, but we would like to celebrate the day with all our family and friends, just like we had planned.’

According to the government, households could be allowed to link up with one other household to form a ‘bubble’ – but people who are considered to be at high-risk of contracting coronavirus must continue to shield by staying in their homes.

Lockdown restrictions could be lifted to different extents in various regions, depending on the rates of infection and death in that area.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘I think there are real concerns about what that means if they can't socially distance at work.

‘We are putting people's lives at risk to go to work when workplaces have not yet put safety measures in place.

‘People in Portsmouth have been good at keeping to restrictions but I don't know if lifting restrictions regionally would apply to the city, or if it would be Hampshire or the south east.

‘We have had fewer coronavirus cases than Southampton but I don't know whether that would mean our restrictions would be lifted sooner.’