The level will drop to 3 from 4, which means that the transmission of the virus is no longer high or increasing exponentially.
The chief medical officers of the four UK countries made the decision with Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, in light of recent data showing infections were on a steady decline and following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Center .
Level 3 of the five-level alert system means the virus remains in general circulation. The government had set criteria for moving from level 4, including less than 10,000 new infections per day and a weekly case rate of less than 25 per 100,000.
The national rate of R was believed to have been consistently below 1 for at least four weeks before lowering the alert level. Lower estimates suggest this was the case, although the higher estimate of the R rate in England climbed to 1 or more last week.
Announcing the decision in a joint statement, the medical chiefs said: ‘Thanks to the UK public’s efforts on social distancing and the impact that we are starting to see from the vaccination program, the number of cases, deaths and pressures in Covid hospitals have steadily declined.
“However, Covid is still circulating with people catching and spreading the virus every day, so we all need to continue to be vigilant. It remains a major pandemic in the world. “
“It is very important that we all continue to follow the guidelines closely and that everyone receives both doses of the vaccine when offered.”
The Prime Minister is expected to officially announce the lifting of measures next Monday, May 17, allowing the reopening of cinemas, hotels and guest houses, and pubs and restaurants to serve customers inside.
The Covid alert level was last lowered in February after being raised to five in the new year as infections skyrocketed after a period of relaxed lockdown and the arrival of new variants.
Since then, the virus has continued to decline gradually with new daily cases now nearly five times lower than at the end of February.
The vaccination program has now seen several million more protected against the virus in Britain and Covid-related hospitalizations have dropped to around 100 per day, down from nearly 1,000 when the alert level was last lowered time.