Boris Johnson tells Cabinet he will proceed with ‘maximum caution’ as lockdown review looms
The Prime Minister told Cabinet he does not want to risk a second wave of Covid-19.
3 min read
Boris Johnson has told the Cabinet he will “advance with maximum caution” as the Government weighs up how far to loosen Britain’s strict coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
The Prime Minister will make a major speech on Sunday ahead of expected changes to the guidance - which has been in force for more than six weeks - at the start of next week.
But Downing Street on Thursday moved to dampen expectations of a dramatic shift in the measures when Mr Johnson addresses the nation on Sunday evening.
A Number 10 spokesperson said the Prime Minister had told the Cabinet he would not “do anything that risks a second peak”, as they made clear any measures that are loosened could be rapidly reintroduced if a rise in cases follows.
“We will advance with maximum caution in order to protect the NHS and to save lives,” Number 10 said.
“And we will be guided at every step by the science and the data.
“And we will closely track the impact of any easing of the social distancing measures and will not hesitate to tighten the rules if required.”
They added: “We are at a critical moment in the fight against the virus and we will not do anything which risks throwing the efforts and sacrifices of the British public.”
The cautious message from the Prime Minister comes amid reports that the Government will jettison its ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’ slogan in favour of less prescriptive wording on staying ‘safe’.
It has been reported that, as well as relaxing guidance limiting trips outside to one hour, people will be able to leave the house repeatedly in a single day - as long as they maintain a two-metre distance from those outside their household.
Tight restrictions on sunbathing and holding picnics in parks could also be lifted, while there have been reports that open-air markets, cafes with outdoor spaces, and cemeteries could see an easing of rules.
Asked about the reports on easing lockdown, the spokesperson repeatedly refused to be drawn on the measures, saying to “wait until Sunday”.
But they added: “What is the case, as Professor Whity has said at the press conferences, is that there is evidence of a much reduced risk of transmission outdoors compared to confined indoors spaces.”
And asked whether people should avoid taking to parks this weekend to go sunbathing, they added: “The social distancing rules remain in place, people have abided by them so far, we are enormously grateful for the sacrifices they have made so far.
"Those sacrifices have made a real difference in driving down the rate of transmission and we ask them to stick with them.”
Number 10 also confirmed that Mr Johnson had held talks with Sir Keir Starmer on the Government's latest response to the pandemic, with a spokesperson for the Labour leader saying the discussions had been "constructive".
They added: "During the call, the Labour Leader stressed the importance of securing a national consensus on the next phase of the Government’s response to the coronavirus. He also reiterated the seven principles that he wants the Government to consider when planning for the next phase, including safety at work and preventing a cliff-edge to the job protection scheme.
“All sides agreed to further briefings over the weekend.”
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