UK commuters could be asked to check their temperatures at home before travelling under plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown being considered by the government.
A change in physical distancing measures, including reducing the recommended gap between people in public from 2 metres to 1 metre, is also being considered, according to reports, as Boris Johnson prepares to lay out a “roadmap” next week for schools and businesses reopening.
The government has been criticised by Labour and business groups for failing to lay out a strategy for easing the lockdown, as other countries have done. It is now expected that some details will be laid out by the prime minister on Thursday, when the government reviews the current lockdown.
Among the measures expected to be proposed are alterations to public transport, to enable more workplaces to open. According to a report in the Times, some of the suggestions include the distribution of hand sanitiser at bus stations and new signage to warn commuters against getting on to busy trains.
Another measure is the recommendation that people using public transport wear face coverings, which the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wants to become compulsory. Commuters may also be advised to take their temperature before leaving home. Though fever is one of the main symptoms of Covid-19, it is also possible to be contagious with the virus and not display a high temperature.
A senior government source confirmed to the PA Media the plans were being looked at but stressed they were a “long way” from becoming policy.
There will likely be questions over whether everyone has accurate devices to take their temperature, just as there have been concerns over the availability of respirator masks, which have been widely used in Asia to combat the spread of the virus. Temperature scanning at airports, which has been mandatory in many countries but not in the UK, may also be part of the recommendations.
The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has been asked to look into the feasibility of reducing the distance people must keep away from each other in public. Since the lockdown began on 24 March, people have been asked to keep 2 metres apart when outside their homes.
The World Health Organization (WHO), however, advocates a distance of 1 metre while Germany has prescribed a distance of 1.5 metres. According to reports in the Telegraph, Sage will report back to government on Tuesday as to whether the advice on distancing should be changed.
Few alterations to the current lockdown conditions are expected on Thursday, when ideas to restart the economy and reopen schools are expected to be announced for when the government’s five tests for reducing the spread of Covid-19 have been passed.
“What you’re going to get next week is really a roadmap, a menu of options,” Johnson said on Thursday. “Until this day comes [when a vaccine is ready], we are are going to have to beat this disease by our growing resolve and ingenuity.”