Coronavirus: Five things the government says need to happen before lockdown is lifted

16 April 2020, 19:50

Dominic Raab laid out the stipulations before an easing to the restrictions could be considered
Dominic Raab laid out the stipulations before an easing to the restrictions could be considered. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

The government has decided to extend the lockdown for another three weeks to continue curbing the spread of coronavirus - but when will we start thinking about an exit strategy?

So far, ministers have been relatively tight-lipped about what an end to the lockdown could look like, saying it is far too early for such discussions to be had.

But on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said there was "a light at the end of the tunnel" as he laid out five key things that need to happen to begin considering easing the restrictions.

They are:

+ Less pressure on the NHS

Mr Raab said the government would need to be confident that the NHS would be able to cope, and be able to provide sufficient critical care across the country before measures could be eased.

+ Fall in daily deaths

This would need be a sustained and consistent reduction in the number of deaths recorded per day to show the UK has finally passed the peak.

+ A decrease in the rate of infection

"Reliable data" from SAGE showing the transmission rate has reduced to a manageable level would help in making a decision on lockdown measures, Mr Raab said.

At recent press conferences, scientific advisers have repeatedly said they believe the rate of infection has reduced to a number below one, since the stringent social distancing measures came into effect.

Read more: Coronavirus lockdown extended by three weeks until at least May 7

This means that for every person who gets infected, they pass on the virus to less than one person.

+ Enough PPE supplies

Mr Raab insisted that lockdown measures could only be lifted once the government is confident that testing capacities are able to cater for the demand.

It would also apply to demand for personal protective equipment (PPE).

+ Avoid a second peak

In the potential adjusting of the rules, Mr Raab said it would need to be clear that any relaxation would not then lead to a surge in new infections - taking the country to a second peak.

This would threaten the NHS, again, with potentially becoming overwhelmed.

Read more: NHS remains 'open for business' to non-coronavirus emergencies

"The worst thing that we can do right now is to ease up too soon and allow a second peak of the virus to hit the NHS and hit the British people," Mr Raab concluded.

"It would be the worst outcome not just for public health but for the economy and for our country as a whole."