United Kingdom Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is set to signal lockdown will stay until June today as he gathers Cabinet to thrash out an ‘exit strategy’ – and then fronts a daily coronavirus briefing for the first time since falling ill.
According to Daily Mail, the PM is expected to dash hopes of an imminent end to the draconian curbs crippling the economy, stressing that allowing the killer disease to run rampant again would do even worse damage.
Johnson will put the ‘R’ number – the reproduction rate of the virus – at the heart of the battle, saying he will not take action that lets it rise above one, meaning it is growing.
Government sources have indicated he will also defy calls to treat the public like ‘grown ups’ by spelling out ways in which the lockdown might be eased, saying it is ‘too early’.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said in interviews this morning that the mood among ministers was ‘extreme caution’, endorsing a strong hint from Nicola Sturgeon that restrictions will be extended for another three weeks when the formal review takes place on May 7.
Ms Sturgeon told a briefing in Edinburgh today: ‘It may very well be too early even this time next week in any meaningful way to safely lift the current restrictions… the margins we have for making sure the virus doesn’t take off again are really really tight.’
However, frantic work has been going on behind the scenes to develop an ‘exit plan’, with suggestions island communities with controllable transport links could be used to trial ways of loosening restrictions while ramping up community testing. The Isle of Wight has been mooted as a location for a pilot site. Discussions have also been ongoing about targeting regions with specific measures, with Cornwall considered easier to isolate.