United Kingdom wants to 'slowly and cautiously' ease lockdown to restart economy - minister

United Kingdom wants to 'slowly and cautiously' ease lockdown to restart economy - minister

United Kingdom wants to 'slowly and cautiously' ease lockdown to restart economy - minister

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has defended the government's change in messaging from "stay at home" to "stay alert" ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's lockdown speech later.

In a televised address to the nation, Johnson said that while people with jobs that can not be done from home are being encouraged to return to work, "this is not the time, simply, to end the lockdown this week".

He has since been back at Parliament and pledged to lay out a "comprehensive" roadmap to unlock the economy, which has remained in near-shutdown as shops, businesses and schools remain closed as part of efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed over 31,000 lives in the UK.

Mr. Johnson has been under growing pressure to ease some of the restriction and kickstart the economy.

Ms Sturgeon said the move will bring "health and wellbeing benefits", especially to those who live in flats and children.

He also urged the country to continue practicing social distancing.

The Prime Minister was dropping his stricter message as he prepared to unveil his plans to ease the lockdown in a broadcast to the nation on Sunday evening.

Johnson said that, from Monday, "anyone who can't work from home, for instance those in construction and manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work".

Guidelines concerning the range of outdoor activities, reopening garden centres and the resumption of some outdoor work will also be considered in the coming days.

Johnson is also looking at a plan to contain infection rates in the longer term, with ministers considering imposing a 14-day quarantine on anyone coming into the country from overseas. Late Sunday the government said travellers from France would be excluded from the restriction.

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The government-ordered lockdown, which began March 23, has reduced the transmission of the novel coronavirus, but the daily death toll remains uncomfortably high. The aviation industry has bitterly opposed the quarantine arguing that it will effectively end air travel and lead to tens of thousands of layoffs.

"We can control the virus by keeping the rate of infection (R) and the number of infections down", the spokesman said.

The UK government said the new "stay alert" message only affects England. "This is how we can continue to save lives as we start to recover from coronavirus", Johnson said on Twitter on Sunday.

The First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, also said she would not be deviating from the "stay at home" message.

But there were immediate divisions, with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying she would stick with the existing "stay at home" message.

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland radio on Sunday, she said: "On the whole, the message is to stay at home".

For the first time during the United Kingdom outbreak, there are differences in the lockdown rules in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said Mr. Johnson's plan lacked a scientific underpinning. "This virus really does exploit ambivalence and thrive on ambiguity, we need clarity at all times".

However, business groups were more positive and said Mr. Johnson had finally outlined a way out of the lockdown.

It will be enforced in England, with the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales to put their own alerts in place by largely following a UK-wide format. The government is also introducing "red" and "green" zones depending on infection levels.

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