“Careful measures” are needed to facilitate the lockdown so that social distancing will be with us for “a while”, said Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.
He told the BBC that the deaths of 20,000 dead in the UK were “heartbreaking” but that the toll could have been “much worse” without the tough measures.
However, Mr. Raab alluded to certain ways in which schools, sports and businesses could start to return to “a new normal.”
He intervenes when the Prime Minister should resume work Monday morning.
Meanwhile, an additional 336 deaths from people with coronavirus have been reported in England, as well as 18 more in Scotland and 14 more in Wales. A UK-wide update on the total number of coronavirus deaths to date is expected soon.
- Have all five tests to end the lockout been completed?
- Does the number of hospital deaths mean failure in the UK?
The government has been pressured by Labor to define its “exit strategy” to lift the lockdown.
Shadow Cabinet Minister Rachel Reeves said ministers should treat people “like adults” and give businesses, schools and other organizations time to plan when they are allowed to reopen.
Raab, who replaced Boris Johnson while he is recovering from the coronavirus, said he was not responsible for starting to announce specific proposals until evidence was available to support them, as this could risk “deceiving” the public.
Rather than a “binary” easing of the measures, he told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that the country would eventually “move to a new normal.”
Raab said that when schools reopen, social distancing measures should be put in place for students and staff.
“I think it is inconceivable that they will return without additional measures, as is already the case in schools open to key workers,” he said.
But he would not be attracted by a suggestion that it would mean that groups of students return to class on different days or times to reduce the number of students.
Ministers will still not know when or how the lockdown measures will be relaxed.
During his last day at the head of the government before Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes over the reins, Dominic Raab goes so far as to speak of the “new normal” that we will have to find during the many months it will take for the scientists to continue their work on a vaccine and treatments.
This new standard should include more tests to detect new cases. It will also require social distancing in stores, schools and workplaces, and even in any other place where people mix.
This raises big questions, especially with regard to transport. How do you safely separate commuters? And what about travelers arriving in the UK who may be carrying a coronavirus?
If you remove the restrictions too quickly or too quickly, the infections could skyrocket. It would risk a new spike and more lockdowns – things that none of us want.
Raab suggested that the social distancing measures already seen in food stores and other businesses that have remained in business could also be extended to non-essential businesses if reopened.
Asked about the possibility of playing sports outside of this summer, Mr. Raab replied that it would be “very difficult because of the level and extent of the interactions”.
But he added, “I think professional sport can be different because of the breadth of tests they could introduce. “
Regarding the possibility of testing people arriving at UK airports, Mr. Raab said that this measure could be introduced but that he “cannot yet say for sure”.
“The advice we received – and I checked it with the scientists, with the chief medical officer – at the beginning, when we took our social distancing measures, is that it would make no difference from a public health, “he said.
At that time, the number of people traveling “plummeted” and “the virus was already on the move” in the United Kingdom, he added.
But he said it may need to be revisited when the number of people with the virus in the UK has dropped significantly.
“Whether it’s quarantine, testing, or whatever else could be done, it’s possible – and I ask this question every week … and we will continue to ask it. “
NHS England medical director Professor Stephen Powis said on Saturday that ending the lock-up too soon would spread the virus further and that it was important not to lose the “gains” from social distancing.
However, Ms. Reeves told Andrew Marr that the government should publish its plans to exit the lockdown and allow them to be scrutinized.
“People generally respected the rules that were put in place and because they did, I think it is even more important to communicate with them, to treat them as adults, where we let’s go then, “she said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that she could delay any lifting of restrictions in Scotland if she thinks the Westminster government is going too fast.
“If … the British government has made decisions that I thought were premature in terms of breaking out of isolation, then I would clearly want to make sure that Scotland has done what I have done best to protect people,” she said to the program.
But Ms. Sturgeon added that she would not take a different route “for fun”.
How are other countries easing their closings?
- In Italy some businesses, such as bookstores, stationery stores and children’s clothing stores, have already reopened on a trial basis in parts of the country. Schools to reopen in September
- Germany reopened small stores, car dealerships and bicycle shops earlier this week. The only students who return to school are those who leave exams. Other students will also start returning to class after the lockout ends
- Spain Sunday, children are allowed to go out for the first time since March 14. The lock itself must be extended until May 9, pending parliamentary approval
- France to release details of loosening restrictions Tuesday
- Belgium schools and businesses will reopen in mid-May
- Denmark allowed students under 12 to return to school earlier this month
Isabella Lovin, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, said it was “crucial” for governments to be “as transparent as possible” with the public and to “treat people like adults”.
There is no official lock in Sweden, but the data suggests that the vast majority of the population has adopted voluntary social distancing.
Lovin also told the program that there was “a real fear” that if the measures were too harsh, they could not be supported by the public and that there could be a “feedback”.
In other developments:
- The Minister of Foreign Affairs said it would be “difficult” for amateur sport to return this summer due to the “level and extent of interaction.”
- Army to start testing vital workers across the UK for coronavirus in mobile units
- Nursing homes caring for thousands of vulnerable residents said none of their staff have been tested for coronavirus.
- Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham “not used at all” 10 days after opening by the Duke of Cambridge
- And a 13-year-old father told how he isolated himself with Covid-19