The UK’s coronavirus lockdown will be extended until at least May 7 in an announcement set to be made on Thursday, it is claimed.
Dominic Raab, who is standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he recovers from Covid-19, will reportedly tell Brits that they will have to remain at home for at least another three weeks as ministers grapple with an exit strategy.
According to polls 74% of the public favour a cautious approach to lifting the lockdown, The Times reports.
Public opinion is heavily in favour of preventing the virus spreading, even if it causes economic damage – although 13% want to get people back to work, even if it means there are more Covid-19 cases.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock is said to be anxious to push the “stay home and save lives” message, and is worried that this could be undermined if non-essential businesses are allowed to reopen.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and senior figures from the Welsh and Northern Irish governments have reportedly been invited to a COBRA meeting to discuss a UK-wide approach.
Government sources admit that ministers are debating how to balance tackling the coronavirus against the economic effect of the lockdown.
One government source told the Mirror : “We’re clearly concerned about the economic impact of all of this but public health is the absolute priority right now.
“It would be wrong to look like bean counters at the expense of saving lives.”
But another Cabinet source stressed that the health of the economy and the public’s health were intricately linked.
They claimed to the Mirror: “It’s not a binary choice between protecting lives and protecting the economy, we want to protect both.”