Government officials have reportedly drawn up a three-stage ‘traffic light’ system to end the UK’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
The plan could see some non-essential businesses re-open in early to mid-May.
This first phase “green light” would reportedly include small, non-essential shops, hairdressers and nurseries – though travel would still be discouraged.
The “amber light” phase would see schools reopen, as well as small businesses and restaurants with strict seating rules. Wearing a mask on public transport would reportedly be compulsory in this phase, expected towards the end of May.
The final phase, reportedly pencilled for mid-June, would see cinemas, theatres and pubs reopen with some restrictions. Weddings and funerals could take place and gyms could open with enhanced sanitation rules.
But this morning Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “No decision has been made on when we will reopen schools.
“I can reassure schools and parents that they will only reopen when the scientific advice indicates it is the right time to do so.”
And asked if the government was considering such a plan, Michael Gove said: “No it’s not.”
He went on: “It is the case that we are looking at all of the evidence but we’ve set some tests which have to be passed before we can think of easing restrictions in this lockdown.
“It’s very important when we’re still in the process of making sure we can reduce the rate of infection, and also reduce the number of deaths, that we maintain the steps that we have.”
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Davis has argued a step-by-step blueprint is needed to help small businesses and shops in the first instance to re-open amid signs that coronavirus deaths in the UK are reaching their peak.
“We must kill off this virus threat – and move heaven and earth to protect those most at risk – but we must not kill off our economy in the process,” he says.
Suggesting that the two million people who are most vulnerable to Covid-19 could remain in self-isolation while others return to work, Mr Davis warns of the potentially devastating long-term damage after “this extraordinary economic shutdown”.
The Conservative MP has even urged the Prime Minister to consider granting tax cuts to small businesses, and large-scale spending on infrastructure projects to boost the economy in the style of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, which came after the Great Depression.
It comes after another former cabinet minister, Iain Duncan Smith told the government not to treat the public like “children”.
The ex-Tory party leader has urged ministers to explain their exit plans so the UK public knows there is “life after lockdown”.
Meanwhile Sir Keir Starmer, who was elected as Labour leader two weeks ago, has said that while he supported this week’s decision to extend lockdown measures, “a clear plan for what comes next” is needed.
Also writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: “Other countries have begun to set out a roadmap to lift restrictions in certain sectors of the economy and for certain services, especially social care, when the time is right.
“This of course must be done in a careful, considered way with public health, scientific evidence and the safety of workers and families at its heart. But the UK Government should be doing likewise.”
Britain’s coronavirus death toll has soared to 15,538 after almost 900 more hospital fatalities were reported in 24 hours.
The UK is one of just five countries with more than 15,000 deaths, joining the US, Italy, Spain and France amid signs that the curve is flattening.
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