First secretary of state, Dominic Raab, has confirmed that the UK will be under lockdown for another three weeks, however, he outlined five key tests that will dictate when the restrictions will be lifted.
The news comes as the COVID-19 death toll for the UK rose to 13,729, according to the latest Government figures.
Describing the precarious situation, Mr Raab said that early relaxation of the lockdown - first imposed on 23 March to stop the spread of the coronavirus - would do more harm than good.
'The advice from SAGE (the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) is that any relaxing of the current measures would risk damage to both public health and the economy,' he said.
However, he announced that the Government would use five key tests to determine when the lockdown will be raised:
- NHS capacity - 'we must be confident we can provide sufficient critical and specialist treatment across the UK'
- A sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates
- Reliable data from SAGE showing the rate of infection is falling across the board
- Operational challenges, including testing capacity and PPE provision, are handled so that supply is meeting demand
- Any adjustments will not risk a second peak that could overwhelm the NHS
Under law, the government must carry out a review of the lockdown restrictions every three weeks.
Elsewhere in Europe in Germany, Italy, and Spain aspects of the lockdown are being lifted albeit on a very gradual scale. In France, where President Macron recently apologised for mistakes and a lack of preparation in the early days of the pandemic, the national lockdown has been extended.
The news was delivered at the Downing Street coronavirus briefing, which also revealed an alarmingly sharp rise in motor traffic as recorded by COBR data.
The total volume of motor traffic almost doubled in recent days - rising from around 20% of pre COVID-19 lockdown levels up to around 40%.