The coronavirus lockdown will ease next week for most of Britain’s population, Boris Johnson has announced, as a row persisted over the prime minister’s closest adviser taking a long-distance journey during lockdown.
Since March 23 there have been periodic reviews of the lockdown circumstances and restrictions every three weeks.
This comes as the Prime Minister was quizzed on Wednesday by The Liaison Committee about the actions of his senior aide Dominic Cummings – who travelled over 250 miles from London to Durham during full lockdown to seek childcare, whilst he was showing symptoms of COVID-19.
At yesterday’s Downing Street briefing, Matt Hancock announced that from today, the NHS Test and Trace initiative would be rolled out, with over 25,000 contact tracers ready to start work.
As the new scheme begins across England, the Health Secretary said “the instructions are absolutely clear” and that, if told to do so by a tracer, it is very important that individuals self-isolate for 14 days.
His comments came amid mounting Tory anger over alleged lockdown breaches by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, whose actions the Health Secretary failed to say were the right thing to do.
Tonight’s briefing announcements will be made based on the science that leads the lockdown, such as the reproduction rate of the virus.
What will the next steps be for England?
Downing Street said the next steps for England should be detailed at the daily press conference this evening, though they are dependent on further scientific advice including on the rate of transmission.
Currently, people are only allowed to meet up at a distance (two metres apart) with one other individual from another household in a public place.
Family reunions and pub beer garden openings could be among the next restrictions eased as the UK edges out of the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown, however there has been no confirmation that this will be included in tonight’s briefing.
This morning, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he “really hopes” families will be reunited soon – and when asked about pub re-openings he said “outside is safer than indoors”.
Boris Johnson has said the Government is “trying to go as fast we can” to re-open the hospitality industry. The PM said “it is very difficult to bring forward hospitality measures” due to social distancing, but he is “much more optimistic” than he was.
“We may be able to do things faster than I previously thought,” added Mr Johnson.