Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has said it is a ‘sensitive moment’ as Britain eases lockdown measures – but said the country ‘can’t just stay in lockdown forever’.
From Monday, groups of up to six people will be able to meet outside in England as long as they observe social distancing as part of efforts to fight coronavirus.
Asked whether the lockdown will be tightened again if infection rates increase, Raab told Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday: ‘We will target, if there is any uptick, and it could be in a locality, it could be in a particular setting, we will target very carefully measures that would apply to it so that we can take these steps but also keep control of the virus.’
He added: ‘This is a sensitive moment.
‘We can’t just stay in lockdown forever. We have got to transition.’
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Referring to a government adviser, he said: ‘As Jonathan Van-Tam … has said, with a precarious moment we can ease up, we can protect life, but also livelihoods, get life back to something resembling normal, but we must monitor it very carefully,
‘If there is any up-tick in the number of cases, if we stop making the progress I described, we will have to take further measures again and target the virus wherever it may appear.’
He later told The Andrew Marr Show the easing of the lockown was needed.
He said: ‘The reason we can take the steps is that we have met our five tests. We have made progress.
‘Because we have made that progress, steadily, slowly, surely, week in, week out, we can very gradually, very carefully, take the steps that we are taking tomorrow.’
Phil Anderson, head of policy at the MS Society, said people would want to hear the scientific evidence behind the decision, which he described as having ‘come out of the blue’.
The Observer reported a letter sent by 26 senior UK academics and health administrators to Downing Street complained about the impact of the key adviser’s actions in driving from London to Durham with his wife and child during the lockdown.
The group also warned about a failure to enact an effective test, trace and isolate system to pinpoint and then quarantine newly infected people.
As a result, they are now ‘very concerned for the safety and wellbeing of the general public’ as the lockdown measures are relaxed, the newspaper reported.