Covid-19: Key questions on lifting lockdown restrictions
It will be a significant week in the nation’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to deliver a “roadmap” to easing lockdown restrictions.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key questions surrounding the lifting of lockdown measures.
– What is the “roadmap” announcement?
On Sunday, Mr Johnson is expected to make an address to the nation detailing a “menu of options” on how the nation will exit lockdown restrictions and re-energise the economy while still suppressing the spread of the virus.
The announcement will follow the Government’s compulsory three-week review of social distancing measures on Thursday, with advisers due to give evidence to MPs on Tuesday on progress towards meeting the five tests necessary for restrictions to be lifted.
– What are the five tests?
The first test is whether Britain has the capacity to look after those seriously ill with coronavirus – which can be measured by spare beds in intensive care.
Hospitals have not been overwhelmed by patients so far in the pandemic and in most parts of the country the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is beginning to fall.
This test, therefore, appears to have been met.
– Have the other tests been met?
It is hard to ascertain whether the “sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths” test has been met as there are some suggestions that deaths in care homes may still be increasing.
Measures on the infection rate are likely to have been met, but global challenges in PPE supply may mean the fourth test is currently failed.
The final test concerns confidence that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections.
– What other measures are being taken to move towards an easing of lockdown restrictions?
Besides the five tests, the biggest factor in the decision to ease lockdown restrictions is the successful uptake of the Government’s Covid-19 contact-tracing app.
NHS and council staff on the Isle of Wight are being urged to download the Covid-19 smartphone app from Tuesday with the rest of the island’s population invited to follow from Thursday.
If the tests are successful it could be rolled out across the rest of the country within weeks.
– Will social distancing need to continue after lockdown is lifted?
Some social distancing measures will persist long after lockdown measures have eased.
On Sunday, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove warned that people would have to live with “some degree of constraint” until they can be immunised against the deadly disease – suggesting Britons would have to accept a “new normal” until then.
Guidance has been prepared for businesses on how they should operate when the decision is made to ease lockdown restrictions, including reduced hot-desking, closing lifts and canteens and encouraging employers to incorporate staggered shifts.
– When will the UK return to normal?
Government and health officials agree that the only certainty on when Britons will be able to return to life before coronavirus is when a vaccine is developed.
On Monday, the Prime Minister told an online conference the race to develop a vaccine was the “most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes”, as he called on nations to “pull together” in response to the pandemic.
The Coronavirus Global Response Summit saw world leaders pledge €7.4bn (£6.5bn) for the research and development of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, with campaigners now calling for a commitment to “universal access”.