The UK is to remain in lockdown for at least a further three weeks after foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced an extension to the existing limits on daily life.
After announcing that the death toll due to coronavirus had hit 13,729, Raab said: "Any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus. That would threaten a second peak of the virus and substantially increase the number of deaths.
He added that the advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) was that relaxing any measures would undo the progress made so far and risk both public health and longer term damage to the economy.
The strict limits on daily life were originally introduced on 23 March, after days earlier cafés, restaurants and pubs had been told to close in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus. The guidance was subsequently extended to include hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks and boarding houses for commercial and leisure use, but excluding permanent residents and key workers.
Raab said: "Based on the advice the government has decided that the current measures must remain in place for at least the next three weeks."
He said that there were five measures that the government would have to be satisfied with before measures were relaxed. They are:
- Ensure the NHS is able to cope
- A sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths
- Reliable information that the rate of infection is decreasing
- Confident that the tech challenges of testing and PPE are in hand
- Confident that any adjustments will not risk a second peak of infections that will overwhelm the NHS
Raab said: "When we are confident on these five points guided by the science, guided by the data, we will look to adjust the measures to make them as effective as possible to protect public health while allowing some economic and social activity resume. But we will only do it when the evidence demonstrates it is safe."