Across the UK lockdown measures have been in place for several weeks, with schools and businesses closed, restrictions on leaving home in place and daily coronavirus press conferences updating the public. Now with cases and deaths seeming to lessen by the day, many are anticipating the announcement of lockdown rules relaxing. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to address the nation on Sunday, but will lockdown measures be lifted?
Is Boris Johnson easing lockdown this week?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to speak to the nation on Sunday, May 10.
He is expected to announce phase two in the Government’s lockdown strategy.
However, Mr Johnson is not expected to immediately relax lockdown measures.
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In his first Prime Minister’s Questions since recovering from COVID-19, Mr Johnson signalled his intention to change social distancing restrictions next week.
He will set out plans for easing the lockdown in the speech on Sunday, with some measures possibly being introduced the following day.
Mr Johnson said: “We have to be sure the data is going to support our ability to do this.
“That data is coming in continuously over the next few days. We want, if we possibly can, to get going with some of these measures on Monday.
“It would be a good thing if the people had an idea of what’s coming the following day, that’s why I think Sunday, the weekend, is the best time to do it.”
Downing Street stressed: “it is not going to be a case of flicking a switch” to lift all measures at once, instead “people will have to prepare for a different type of normal”.
Sunday’s announcement is three days after the Government is due to review the restrictions currently in place.
In an indication of the changed approach, Public Health England signalled the “stay home” message could be abandoned.
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A PHE spokesman said: “We are reviewing all communications materials in anticipation of moving to the next phase of the Government campaign.”
Ministers are also drawing up plans for how workplaces can be adapted, outdoor spaces can be managed and public transport can operate with social distancing measures in place.
Potentially another three weeks of lockdown – with some small changes – are on the cards after the Government’s review.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab extended lockdown on April 17 for three weeks, putting the Government’s review on Thursday, May 7.
The UK has been in lockdown since March 23, with restrictions on travelling, leaving home and who can work.
Any immediate changes to the lockdown rules are expected to be minor in order to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday countries emerging from restrictions to halt the new coronavirus must proceed “extremely carefully” or risk a rapid rise in new cases.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said countries needed to ensure they had adequate measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
These measures include tracking systems and quarantine provision.
He said at during a virtual meeting in Geneva: “The risk of returning to lockdown remains very real if countries do not manage the transition extremely carefully and in a phased approach.
WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove supported his concerns about the disease which has infected 3.71 million globally and killed more than 258,000 people.
She told the briefing: “If lockdown measures are lifted too quickly, the virus can take off.”
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