The UK lockdown has been extended into May as the government insists its plan to tackle the coronavirus outbreak “is working”.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the news on Thursday (16 Apr), stating restrictions will remain in place for at least another three weeks, until 7 May.
As the Prime Minister returned to Downing Street on Monday (27 Apr), he said there are signs the UK is “passing through the peak”, but insisted social distancing measures still need to remain in place as he warned he would not risk a second peak by relaxing restrictions too quickly.
What restrictions are currently in place?
Lockdown restrictions mean people should only leave their home for the following four reasons:
- Infrequent shopping for basic necessities, such as food or medicine. People should use delivery services where they can
- One form of exercise per day, either alone or with people you live with
- For a medical need, such as a doctor or hospital visit, or to take care of the vulnerable
- To go to work, but only if this cannot be done from home
Shops that are permitted to stay open include supermarkets and other food shops, health shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, home and hardware shops, launderettes and dry cleaners, garages, car rentals, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents, post offices and banks.
Parks will also remain open for exercise, but playgrounds and outdoor gym spaces will now be closed.
When will the UK lockdown end?
The initial three-week long lockdown has now been extended for a further three weeks until at least 7 May.
While Boris Johnson said the UK is now “beginning to turn the tide” on the virus, he also said that now is the moment of “maximum risk” because of the danger that people will start to ease up on social distancing measures.
The Government first needs to be satisfied of five things before considering it safe to adjust the current measures.
- Protect the NHS's ability to cope and be confident that the NHS is able to provide sufficient critical care across the UK
- A sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates to be confident the UK is beyond the peak
- Reliable data from Government scientific advisers showing rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board
- Confidence that testing capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) are in hand with "supply able to meet future demand"
- Confidence that any adjustments to the current measures would not risk a second peak in infections.
Mr Johnson said: "When we are sure that this first phase is over and that we are meeting our five tests: deaths falling, NHS protected, rate of infection down, really sorting out the challenges of testing and PPE, avoiding a second peak, then that will be the time to move on to the second phase in which we continue to suppress the disease and keep the reproduction rate - the R rate - down, but begin gradually to refine the economic and social restrictions and one-by-one to fire up the engines of this vast UK economy.
"And in that process, difficult judgments will be made and we simply cannot spell out now how fast or slow or even when those changes will be made, though clearly the Government will be saying much more about this in the coming days."
When did China lift its lockdown?
Wuhan in China, where coronavirus is said to have originated, imposed what is probably the most extreme lockdown so far from 23 January, with all journeys in and out of the city banned - even for those medical or humanitarian reasons.
The lockdown in parts of China has now been gradually eased, more than two months after being imposed, although restrictions have had to be reintroduced in some areas as signs of a second wave of infections emerged.
The city of Wuhan came out of lockdown on 8 April, almost three months after coming into force.
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