Coronavirus: Schools and markets quiet as England takes ‘tentative steps’ out of lockdown | UK News

School classrooms remain quiet and shoppers are yet to return to markets as the UK takes “tentative steps” out of the relaxed lockdown measures.

Sky News correspondent Ashna Hurynag has visited Handcross Primary School near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, where pupils have been reunited with friends they haven’t seen in 10 weeks.

She said: “The classrooms are eerily quiet and corridors are void of hustle and bustle.

“No such business is allowed – as the two-metre distancing is enforced everywhere from the playground to the toilets.

“Friends that haven’t seen each other in 10 weeks can’t give each other a hug. Play areas are cut off with tape, safety is paramount.”

Signs are in place at Handcross Primary School to remind pupils about social distancing
Image:
Signs are in place at Handcross Primary School to remind pupils about social distancing
Parts of the school near Haywards Heath have been taped off as part of the measures
Image:
Parts of the school near Haywards Heath have been taped off as part of the measures

Ms Hurynag also said there are only individual desks and separate supplies for each pupil with no sharing allowed.

Tape on the floor marks the two-metre “safe” route to the sink for hand-washing.

Pupils have also been sat at individual desks at Hiltingbury Infant School in Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire.

Pupils sit at separate desks at Hiltingbury Infant School in Hampshire
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Pupils sit at separate desks at Hiltingbury Infant School in Hampshire

Sky’s North of England correspondent Gerard Tubb is at Kirkgate market in Leeds where the council has waived stall holder fees.

He said: “It’s still early but there are no customers.

“In the first hour and a half of trading after 10 weeks of lockdown, Akbar Balkhi sold just one pair of socks for £2.”

Akbar Balkhi had only sold a £2 pair of socks before 10am on Monday
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Akbar Balkhi had only sold a £2 pair of socks before 10am on Monday

Ikea homeware stores have reopened today in England, with big queues seen at their store in Lakeside, Thurrock.

Protective checkout screens and sanitiser are available in stores and all payments must be made by card.

The restaurants and playgrounds in the chain’s outlets remain closed.

Wardens are patrolling stores and the number of customers is limited.

A long queue has formed outside Ikea in Thurrock
Image:
A long queue has formed outside Ikea in Thurrock

Business Secretary Alok Sharma told Sky News that the lockdown is being eased in a “phased manner”.

He added: “This is not a dash… these are very cautious, tentative steps that we are taking.

“The one thing that no one wants to see is a second spike.”

The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) has warned experts have been “increasingly concerned” ministers are making the wrong decision by easing restrictions too quickly.

Parents seemingly share their concerns, with a survey suggesting 46% of families were expected to keep pupils at home as classes open to children in reception, year one and year six in England.

ADPH president Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy said public health directors were concerned people were “not keeping to social distancing as it was”, with pictures emerging of crowded beaches and beauty spots over the weekend.

Groups of up to six people are permitted to meet outside at a distance in England from Monday, and outdoor markets and car showrooms are reopening.

Socially-distanced outdoor meetings of the same size could already take place in Northern Ireland, while in Scotland individuals can meet those from one other household in groups of up to eight.

Wales has not set a size restriction, but groups meeting outside must only be comprised of individuals from two different households.

This week from today to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World – a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too.

If you’d like to be in our virtual audience – from your own home – and put questions to the experts, email [email protected]

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