Covid-19: Latest review due on UK lockdown measures
Prime minister Boris Johnson will meet with his cabinet on Thursday to review the Covid-19 lockdown, following hints that some restrictions could be eased as early as Monday next week.
Johnson is then due to make an address to the nation on Sunday to outline the next phase of the government’s plan.
There is speculation that the government could abandon its recommendations that people remain at home, with several cabinet members advocating a restarting of the economy and allowing some people to return to work.
The UK lockdown has been ongoing since March 23, and it is likely that it will largely remain in place even if some measures are eased on Sunday.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Johnson said: "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."
The prime minister did warn, however, that any easing of lockdown restrictions had to be supported by statistics.
In a statement, Downing Street warned Brits not to expect all measures to be lifted at once and to instead “prepare for a different type of normal”.
Meanwhile at Holyrood, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that any major changes to lockdown measures are unlikely to happen soon, with any easing of restrictions likely to be a loosening of rules around daily exercise or allowing people to meet up with a fraction of their friends or relatives.
In Northern Ireland, first minister Arlene Foster has suggested restrictions could be relaxed at different stages compared to the wider UK, while Welsh finance minister Rebecca Evans has said that Wales is “keen to move as closely as we can with England”, although adjustments to measures there could once again occur at different points to the rest of the UK.
The official UK Covid-19 death toll has now exceeded 30,000, after a daily increase of 649 deaths was declared on Wednesday. It is the world’s second largest tally behind only the US.
Official figures show that deaths in care homes are on the rise despite hospital deaths being in decline, with the prime minister saying that the government is “working very hard” to push the death toll in the community down.
Elsewhere, after a government target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day was hit on the last day of April, daily tests performed have fallen below that number ever since.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said that the “consistent downward trend” in test numbers was “not good enough” and “doesn’t inspire confidence to start easing lockdown”.
Johnson has now set a new target of carrying out an actual number of 200,000 coronavirus tests daily by the end of May.