Prime minister Boris Johnson has said that the government will weigh-up easing the UK coronavirus lockdown with “maximum caution”, ahead of his address to the nation on Sunday evening.
There is media speculation that some restrictions could be eased from Monday and that the government will deviate from its strategy of telling citizens to remain at home.
The UK lockdown has been ongoing since March 23 and is likely to continue beyond the weekend, with any easing of restrictions likely to be limited.
Meanwhile, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that Scotland’s lockdown will be extended.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do have the right to diverge from Westminster’s strategy and can therefore ease and re-enforce restrictions at different stages.
Sturgeon has already made her opposition clear to abandoning the present strategy of telling citizens to remain at home, adding that any loosening of lockdown measures would be “very, very risky” at the present time.
The Scottish first minister has indicated that she is willing to “go different ways” than the rest of the UK if the four nations are “at different stages”.
A spokesperson for the government in Wales called for clarity when announcing changes to existing measures, adding that media speculation has come across as “confusing” and “risks sending mixed messages to people across the UK”.
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster has already suggested that restrictions there could be lifted at different stages to the wider UK.
According to a Downing Street statement, Johnson favours keeping the UK approach a “four-nation” one, adding that the “only circumstances where there should be divergence is when there is evidence that supports it”.
The PM informed the cabinet prior to the weekend that the government would do all in its power to avoid a second spike of cases and continue to be guided by the science.
Johnson also stressed that the government would not hesitate to reimpose restrictions if the statistics showed that loosening them was not working.
Speaking to the BBC, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that he expected lockdown measures to continue and that his party would get behind the move.
Sir Keir said: "Lockdown needs to stay in place until we are sure the infection rate has gone down."