Covid-19 alert level drops from four to three
The Covid-19 alert level used in the UK by chief medical officers was reduced from four to three yesterday.
Level three means the virus is believed to still be "in general circulation", but that lockdown measures can see a "gradual relaxation", as indicated by government action over the past few weeks.
If reduced to level two, this would mean the number of cases is "low" and that social distancing would become "minimal".
At level one, the virus is not deemed to be active in the UK, but there will still be routine tests and international monitoring to ensure there is not another spike in activity.
Matt Hancock described the alert level decrease as a "big moment" for the UK.
The health secretary said the move was "a real testament to the British people's determination to beat this virus".
"Infection rates are rapidly falling, we have protected the NHS and, thanks to the hard work of millions in our health and social care services, we are getting the country back on her feet."
UK medical officers, however, warned that in spite of a "steady decrease in cases", the pandemic is "not over", and localised outbreaks are still "likely to occur".
"We have made progress against the virus thanks to the efforts of the public and we need the public to continue to follow the guidelines carefully to ensure this progress continues."
The major factors considered in relation to the Covid-19 alert system in the UK are the "R number", a measure of how quickly the novel coronavirus reproduces, the number of new confirmed cases, the number of new hospital admissions and the daily death toll.
The next step in the government's plans to ease the lockdown would come "no earlier" than July 4, and would see services deemed non-essential - such as hairdressers, restaurants and pubs - reopen in a way which would ensure social distancing rules could still be followed.