BRITAIN’S lockdown has been extended by three weeks today – after Boris Johnson urged “maximum caution”.
Dominic Raab confirmed the news tonight that there is “no change” yet as the virus is still “deadly and infectious”, but some minor tweaks are expected in the coming days.
The PM will address the nation at the weekend and is expected to relax some small measures – like being able to have a picnic and taking longer exercise – but the lockdown will carry on in most forms.
Mr Raab told the public today:”I’ve said it very clearly – there is no change in the rules today.
“What the PM will do is set out a roadmap with milestones, that can look to the future.
“The virus is not beaten yet – it remains deadly and infectious.
“We are working hard to bring it down in areas of concern.
“I am confident we can and we will do it.”
He refused to “jump the gun” and reveal what changes could come in the next few days.
But he revealed that the R rate of transmission is now somewhere between 0.5 and 0.9. Crucially it’s still below one so the virus is not transmitting it on to large numbers of people.
Boris’ roadmap will contain “milestones” which must be reached before any changes – and “detailed guidance” for the public and businesses into the new tweaks.
Some measures will be able to come in quickly but others will take longer, he stressed.
The news came as:
The PM held a key Cabinet meeting today for the Government to examine the coronavirus measures.
By law the rules have to be looked at every three weeks – and they are set to run for another three from today.
No10 said this afternoon that Boris had told the Cabinet: “We are not going to do anything that risks a second peak.
“We will advance with maximum caution in order to protect the NHS and to save lives.
“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 we will not hesitate to tighten the rules if required.”
However, Scotland and Wales look set to have different rules to England from next week, which have both appeared more cautious in the last few days.
Downing Street warned that any changing of lockdown measures next week would be “very limited” – in an attempt to dampen hopes of the nation they will free to act how they wish.
No major changes to the nationwide lockdown are expected, and Brits will still have to stay in their homes and avoid seeing pals up close.
The Sun earlier revealed Brits will be set free to enjoy unlimited exercise from Monday.
Cafes could re-open and outdoor spaces soon after, and park picnics may also be on again, as long as people stay two metres apart.
This afternoon Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the controls will continue to stay strict north of the border.
She said: “The other possible changes reported in the media today – such as encouraging more people back to work now or opening beer gardens or encouraging more use of public transport – would not, in my judgement, be safe for us to make yet.
“And I believe that for us to drop the clear, well understood ‘Stay at Home’ message right now could be a potentially catastrophic mistake.”
The only measures she would be willing to look at were changes to how many times a day people can exercise, she said.
The Scottish leader today insisted all the evidence pointed towards having to continue with the same rules.
She explained: “Our assessment of the evidence leads me to conclude that the lockdown must be extended at this stage.
“We know that progress remains fragile, our estimates suggest there are still significant amounts of people in Scotland infected with this virus.
“Any significant easing of restrictions at this stage would be very very risky indeed.”
The PM held talks with Sturgeon and the other devolved administration leaders this afternoon.
Ahead of the meeting, the SNP leader insisted she will “not be pressured” into lifting restrictions early.
She said: If the PM wants to decide to move at a faster rate than Scotland that is his right.
“I hope you understand and agree that I must make judgements informed by the evidence that are right and safe for Scotland.
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