With temperatures expected to reach close to 20 degrees Celsius, ministers, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, warned that warm weather was no excuse to break the lock.
A source suggested that public spaces, including parks, could be closed if people defy the warnings. The number of coronavirus deaths in the UK rose to 3,605 yesterday, with a total of 36,168 cases.
Mr. Hancock was invited to his press conference at Downing Street if the UK could follow France by “parking police at stations and installing highway checkpoints”, and replied, “We don’t exclude nothing in terms of additional social distance, if necessary, or further application of social distance. “
However, The Telegraph has discovered that there is a dispute at the heart of the government over the possibility of tightening the restrictions two weeks after the lockdown, which began on March 23.
A cabinet minister said the “draconian” measures had “gone far enough” and risked further damaging the economy.
Johnson, who had coronavirus, posted a video message announcing that he would remain isolated and urged the public to stay at home over the weekend.
“I just urge you not to do this. Please follow the advice now. “
His warning was reiterated by Mr. Hancock, who said that “people will die” if we “relax our discipline now”.
Hancock added, “This advice is not a request, it is an instruction. “
However, a cabinet minister told the Telegraph that a consensus was emerging for the lockdowns to be lifted “as soon as possible” and said, “Many ministers believe he has gone far enough. The foreclosure is largely supported by the short term, but I’m not sure it will be if it looks like it will last for months rather than weeks.
“Companies may be able to survive for a month – two at most – but if this continues, we run the risk that workers may have no business to return to.”
Another minister predicted that the government would be “under” increased political pressure “to lift the blockade on the reopening of Parliament on April 21.
“Voters will have contacted them to say they are losing their businesses and livelihoods,” said the minister.
This week’s figures showed that almost half a million people had applied for benefits during the coronavirus epidemic. The service sector also experienced its deepest recession last month, dragging the sector into a “black hole” after the massive closure of bars, pubs and restaurants.
Government sources said that particular attention would be paid to public activity. “Closing public spaces is certainly an option,” said a source.
A letter signed jointly by patrons of London’s largest parks, including Hampstead Heath and the royal parks, warned that closures could follow if people chose to “picnic, sunbathe or ride a bike where it isn’t authorized ”.
Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested that the lock north of the border would last “at least” 12 to 13 weeks.
Priti Patel, the Minister of the Interior, supported the officers responsible for enforcing the measures. She told the Telegraph: “To be clear, if you are going outside to exercise this weekend, you should only go out once a day, do not travel unnecessarily and use the open spaces near you where you can. We have given the police and other competent authorities the powers to enforce the measures if necessary, including through fines. “
Martin Hewitt, president of the National Council of Chiefs of Police, said that people “for no good reason” should go home.
The Coronavirus Act allows ministers to declare a “public health response period” during which officials can ban any event or collect or close or restrict access to all premises.
Downing Street made it clear that there was no immediate threat of a stronger lockdown by shutting down public spaces, which Mr. Johnson would be willing to resist. The Prime Minister plans to review the lockout after the Easter holiday.