Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said he would exercise “maximum caution” in relaxing Britain’s near-lockdown to curb the spread of novel coronavirus.
Johnson chaired a cabinet meeting on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday and was expected to consult leaders of devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland later.
He is scheduled to make a televised speech on Sunday evening to inform the public of his plans.
“The prime minister said (to his cabinet) that in considering whether there could be any easement in the existing guidelines that we are not going to do anything that risks a second peak,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
“We will advance with maximum caution in order to protect the NHS (National Health Service) and save lives,” the spokesman said.
He said the government “will not hesitate to tighten the rules (again) if required.”
Johnson told parliament on Wednesday that he hoped to lift some measures from Monday.
He is under pressure to boost the economy, but many health experts have warned that easing measures too soon could allow another surge in infections and cause more economic damage.
Britain has reported more than 30,000 deaths linked to COVID-19, Europe’s highest official death toll.
An analysis by experts of seasonal excess deaths suggests some 50,000 people may have died.
The Bank of England on Thursday forecast a record slump of 14 per cent in Britain’s GDP this year, warning that the impact of the pandemic will last well into 2021. (dpa/NAN)