Coronavirus: Boris Johnson's spokesman suggests no relaxation of lockdown on the horizon

April 30, 2020

Boris Johnson will maintain the coronavirus lockdown despite pressure from some businesses to ease it, Downing Street has signalled.

The prime minister’s spokesman said he does not want to relax the strict social distancing "too soon" - a week from the promised review point.

The spokesman was asked about reports the measures could be extended all the way into June, as the number of people who have died with COVID-19 in the UK reached 26,097.

"I think we will have to wait for the review to take place and I don't think it is wise for me to pre-empt that,” Mr Johnson’s spokesman said.

“What you've obviously heard from [England’s chief medical officer] Chris Whitty is that this is a disease that is going to be around for a significant amount of time.

“He's said we have to be realistic, we're going to have to do a lot of things for a long period of time."

The spokesman added: "Let's not pre-empt the review but, as the PM himself has said, the worst thing we could do is relax the social distancing measures too soon and throw away all of the progress which has been made thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of the British public."

The UK currently has the third-highest number of reported deaths in the world from COVID-19, behind the US - 60,999 - and Italy - 27,682.

A number of companies and Tory donors have called on the government to let shops reopen to restart the economy due to growing fears firms might collapse, have to close stores or lay off more staff.

Pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues are facing up to a 50% drop in trade, if, as FTSE 100 businesses are already planning for, social distancing measures remain in place until the summer of 2021.

Questions are also being asked about how long the public will continue adhering to the lockdown, after vehicle usage rose to its highest level since the end of March.

The Spectator reported that Mr Johnson is considering only a very small easing of the lockdown to include some recommencing of outdoor activities.

That would continue, the magazine added, until data collection is improved and the workforce of 15,000 who will be part of the “test, track and trace” South Korean model are in place to allow the measures to be eased nationally and only shut down specific regions where there is another outbreak.

Sky News has also revealed the government will test how GP surgeries might react to another outbreak using a new forecasting tool being developed by the NHS.

The system can make predictions about areas as small as 1,000 people.

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