Rishi Sunak says lockdown easing is 'absolutely safe' amid warnings from public health officials
Rishi Sunak said the latest measures were "absolutely safe".
Rishi Sunak has said the Government’s lockdown easing measures are "absolutely safe" after public health officials raised concerns about the move.
The Chancellor said people should have the "confidence" to go out to visit outdoor markets and other shops allowed to open as he insisted the changes were "safe and responsible".
His comments came after senior public health officials from the Association of Directors of Public Health accused ministers of "misjudging the balance of risk" and lifting "too many restrictions, too quickly".
In a statement, the group, which represents public health officials, called for a halt to the latest measures, adding: "Over the weekend we have seen signs that the public is no longer keeping as strictly to social distancing as it was – along with this, we are concerned that the resolve on personal hygiene measures, and the need to immediately self-isolate, if symptomatic, is waning."
They added: "The ADPH is calling for full implementation of all Phase 2 measures to be delayed until further consideration of the ongoing trends in infection rates and the R level gives more confidence about what the impact of these will be."
But, speaking during a visit to London's Tachbrook Market, Mr Sunak said the changes were part of a "very clear plan" for gradually leaving lockdown.
"It is absolutely safe and we've got a very clear plan that we have been sticking to throughout this whole process of dealing with coronavirus," the Chancellor said.
"We are now at the stage of that plan where we can get our lives a little bit more back to normal.
"But look, that isn't an overnight big bang thing. It is measures, it is progressive, we do it in a safe and responsible way.
"That is why today we are starting with covered markets and car showrooms.
"In a couple of weeks we will get the shops open, and then hopefully at the beginning of July we will be able to get many more restaraunts and pubs open as well."
He added: "That is the plan, we are sticking to it, its safe and people should have the confidence to go out there and get their lives a little bit more back to normal."
His comments come after Number 10 defended the changes, saying the new measures were "unlikely" to push the reproduction rate of the virus above the crucial threshold which would trigger a u-turn.
"We have worked to gradually and safely ease the lockdown measures," the Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson said.
"The consensus from the scientists is if test and trace is up and running and the public follow the social distancing guidance then it's unlikely the measures will push the R above one."