'Government devising three stage lockdown exit strategy starting in May'

18 April 2020, 15:50

File photo: The government is reportedly working on a three-stage exit strategy
File photo: The government is reportedly working on a three-stage exit strategy. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The government is reportedly devising a “three stage” exit strategy to relax the UK’s lockdown measures amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is working on a “best case scenario” to end the lockdown, Buzzfeed News reported today.

According to a source, social distancing measures could be gradually eased between May and July, with pubs and restaurants reopening towards the end of the summer.

The first stage would be to re-open non-essential shops, warehouses and schools from the beginning of next month.

Other measures could be relaxed in June and July, with busy environments such as pubs reopening after that.

But elderly and vulnerable people could be forced to stay at home for as long as a year until a vaccine is found.

It was reported that this strategy would be dependent on the UK's infection rate in the run up to the next review on May 7 and the government’s testing strategy.

One minister said: “This has been an appalling few weeks but we appear to have got through it without the worst happening.”

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A Government spokesperson told LBC News: "The Government has already set out five clear tests to consider before making any adjustment to its approach.

“At all times we have been consistently guided by scientific advice to protect lives.

“The current advice from SAGE is that relaxing any of the measures could risk damage to public health, our economy, and the sacrifices we have all made.

"Only when the evidence suggests that it is safe to do, and the scientific advice provides for it, will we adjust these measures.”

Senior MPs warned today that ministers are underestimating the public by refusing to discuss exit strategies.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis said: "Other countries have been very open about what they've done.

"There's really no reason, there's no argument for not debating and discussing with all the facts available.

"There are lots and lots of benefits of being open about this. The argument that was put, that we don't want to confuse the message, I think is just wrong. It underestimates the public. The public understand that there are phases to this."

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the Government should stop treating people "like children" by refusing to discuss exit strategies.

He told The Times: "The Government is going to have to accept and admit we are coming out of lockdown.

"We need to trust the British people and not treat them like children. We must respect their common sense. They need to know that the sun is rising at some point, in an economic sense."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the Government is not being more forthcoming about an exit strategy because Boris Johnson is absent, continuing his recovery at Chequers.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said that claim was "just wrong".