Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the UK’s lockdown needs to be eased carefully, meaning social distancing will remain for “some time.” This comes after the UK death toll reached over , 350 over the weekend. The foreign Secretary described the number of coronavirus deaths as “heartbreaking”, but said the toll could have been “much worse” without the restrictions.
Mr Raab did hint at some ways schools, sport and businesses could begin to return to “a new normal”.
However, he said the UK’s lockdown needs to be eased carefully, meaning social distancing will remain for “some time”.
The news comes as the government has come under increasing pressure from Labor to set out its “exit strategy” for lifting the lockdown.
However, the Foreign Secretary said it would not be responsible to start announcing specific proposals until evidence was available to support them as this could risk “misleading” the public.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the UK’s lockdown needs to be eased carefully (Image: GETTY)
Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, he said that rather than a complete lifting of all measures the country would end up “moving to a new normal”.
Mr Raab said when schools reopened, social distancing measures would need to be in place for pupils and staff.
“I think it’s inconceivable that they would come back without further measures, as are already being applied in those schools that are open for key workers, “he said.
But he would not be drawn on a suggestion that this would mean groups of pupils returning to lessons on different days or times to keep pupil numbers down.
He said the death toll could have been ‘much worse’ without the restrictions (Image: PA)
Mr Raab suggested social distancing measures already being seen in food shops and other businesses that have remained operating could also be expanded to non-essential businesses if they were to reopen .
When asked whether there was any chance of people being able to play sport outside this summer, Mr Raab said this would be “difficult” due to the “level and scale of interaction”.
But he added: “I think the professional sport may be different because of the scale of testing that they would be able to introduce.”
On the possibility of testing people arriving at UK airports, Mr Raab said this measure migh t be introduced but he “can’t say it with any certainty yet”.
tHe government has come under increasing pressure from Labor to set out its exit strategy (Image: PA)
The Foreign Secretary said it would not be responsible to start announcing specific proposals until evidence was available to support them (Image: PA)
“The advice that we got – and I checked it with the scientists, with the chief medical officer – at the outset when we took up our social distancing measures, is that it wouldn’t make any difference from a public health point of view, “he said.
At that time, the number of people traveling was “plumme ting “and” the virus was already at pace “within the UK, he added.
However, he said that might need to be reviewed when the number of people with the virus in the UK had dropped significantly.
“Whether it’s a quarantine period, or testing, or other measures that might be taken, it’s possible – and I ask this question every week … and we will keep asking that question. “
Social distancing ( Image: EXPRESS)
During Sunday’s Downing Street briefing, NHS England’s Medical Director, Prof Stephen Powis, said efforts by the public to follow social distancing guidelines “have begun to pay off”.
However, the NHS boss stressed this would only continue if people continue to comply with the strict measures.
He said there was a “very definite” trend of a reduced numb er of people in hospitals and said there had been a decline in the number of critical care beds used for Covid – patients.
Despite the positive news, Prof Powis insisted it was too early to ease off lockdown measures.
Mr Raab said when schools reopened, social distancing measures would need to be in place for pupils and staff (Image: PA)
Meanwhile, some of the millions of British workers furloughed during the coronavirus lockdown will be encouraged to take a second job picking fruit and vegetables, as two thirds of the migrant labor needed are out of the country.
Giving the daily COVID – briefing, Environment Secretary George Eustice said he expected there would b ea need to recruit staff in the UK to harvest crops in the coming weeks.
However, he insisted the international food chain was continuing to “work well”.
He said: “We’re also acutely aware that we’re about to start the British season in fresh produce, in soft fruits and salads.
” We estimate that probably only about a third of the migrant labor that would normally come to the UK is here, and was probably here before lockdown.
“We are working with industry to identify an approach that will encourage those millions of furloughed workers in some cases to consider taking a second job, helping get the harvest in June. “
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