A blueprint to get us back to work: Ministers are working on a series of restrictions to be brought in when lockdown eases… but Boris Johnson will warn the public that he will not risk a second wave of coronavirus by relaxing the rules too soon
- Prime Minister is expected to set out latest thinking on social restrictions today
- Government sources said he will hail progress in bringing virus under control
- He will also level with the public about difficulty of easing lockdown measures
- No10 is playing down any suggestion of imminent changes to the restrictions
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Boris Johnson will warn the public today that even a modest relaxation of the lockdown could risk a deadly second wave of the virus.
The Prime Minister is expected to set out his latest thinking on social restrictions this evening when he leads the daily Downing Street press conference for the first time this month.
Government sources said he would hail the progress made in bringing the virus under control and preventing the NHS from becoming overwhelmed.
But he will also level with the public about the difficulty of easing the crippling lockdown, which is thought to be costing the economy £2 billion a day.
Mr Johnson will warn that the Government will not countenance lifting any measure that would risk a return to the exponential growth in the virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson enjoys a pint with Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin in one of his pubs last year
The Cabinet will meet this morning to discuss ‘phase two,’ but it has become increasingly clear that Mr Johnson will have to dash any hopes of ending the lockdown.
One No10 source told The Daily Telegraph: ‘It will very much be in the area of how we satisfy our five tests for coming out of lockdown, chief among which is making sure we don’t risk another exponential rise in infections.
‘It’s still too early to be setting out any details of what any easing of the lockdown might look like.’
Data published on Wednesday showed that Britain has one of the world’s worst coronavirus death rates, better only than Spain and Belgium per capita.
And Dominic Raab pointed to the perils of a premature easing, noting that Germany, though it contained the virus commendably, has now seen a surge in transmission since opening back up.
‘Chancellor Merkel has made it clear that they might need a second lockdown in Germany if the infection rate continues to rise.’ The Foreign Secretary said at the Downing Street briefing.
Ministers are working on a series of workplace guides detailing restrictions that will continue even when the lockdown is eased.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma has asked officials to produce advice on how a gradual return to work could be managed safely for seven different kinds of workplace including offices, factories and construction sites.
Firms will be told to shut canteens and other communal spaces, as well as operating new shift patterns to allow for social distancing and limit the pressure on public transport at rush hour.
Office staff are likely to be encouraged to continue working from home where possible.
Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said a partial reopening of schools was ‘in the mix’ but it was ‘premature’ to expect early action given the difficulty of social distancing in them.
One Whitehall source said the three-weekly review of lockdown measures, due on May 7, would involve only modest changes.
‘We are looking at whether we can undo the top button and make things more comfortable in one or two places for the economy,’ the source added. ‘But any idea of a widespread lifting is plain wrong.’
Britain’s roads are becoming noticeably more busy, sparking fears the country is easing itself out of lockdown against Government advice
The Government has still not announced when children will be allowed back to school but has dismissed calls for them to open during the summer so pupils can catch up on any lessons they have missed
The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies will hand new evidence to ministers in the coming days, but it is expected to say lifting many of the restrictions would immediately lead to the infection rate rising.
A government source said Mr Johnson will be ‘very clear that we will not do anything that might risk [this]… because then you are back with the virus spreading exponentially and the risk of a second lockdown’.
At last night’s No 10 press conference, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab noted a reported rise in virus cases in Germany, which has eased its lockdown.
He said a similar uptick in the UK ‘is a very real risk’.