No end to lockdown yet but 'careful' easing begins, British PM Johnson says
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday the coronavirus lockdown will not end yet, urging people to “stay alert” to the risks as he outlined plans to begin slowly easing measures that have closed down much of the economy for nearly seven weeks, Trend reports citing Reuters.
While his government was giving directions for England, it wants the United Kingdom’s other constituent nations - Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - to take the same approach. But there were immediate divisions, with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying she was sticking with the existing “stay at home” message.
Johnson announced a limited easing of restrictions, including allowing people to exercise outside more often and encouraging those who cannot work from home to return to their jobs.
“This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week,” he said in a televised address. “Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.”
Johnson’s government has faced criticism from opposition parties and others over its handling of the pandemic and the prime minister is wary of taking the brakes off too soon. Britain’s coronavirus death toll - 31,855 - is the second highest in the world, behind only the United States. The bulk of the cases and deaths have been in England.
The government’s decision to replace its “stay at home” slogan, drummed into the public for weeks, was criticised by opposition parties who called the new “stay alert” message too ambiguous.