Inside Boris Johnson’s dossier that will determine when lockdown ends
Timetable based on latest evidence may see shops and hotels reopen in April
Boris Johnson is being handed a dossier of data today that will shape his plans for when and how the UK’s third Covid lockdown comes to an end.
After receiving the “up-to-date” analysis, the prime minister will “crunch those numbers to finalise the roadmap with a core team of Cabinet ministers and aides over the weekend”, The Sun reports. The lockdown easing plan is then expected to be presented to the cabinet and MPs, before being unveiled to the nation by Johnson on Monday evening.
Provided the numbers add up, “internal plans in Whitehall suggest a rapid reopening of the economy in the weeks after pupils return to classrooms on 8 March”, Sky News’ deputy political editor Sam Coates reports. The leaked blueprint indicates that students in higher and further education could be back in mid-April, with non-essential shops allowed to reopen at the same time.
Hospitality venues, hotels, leisure facilities and some sporting venues would then open at the end of April, followed by entertainment venues and more sporting facilities in early May.
Hopes are high that Johnson will greenlight this relatively speedy easing timetable, with “little evidence” in public data to suggest a “more cautious approach than expected will be needed ”, adds Coates.
Scientists tracking the pandemic have reported a “strong decline” in levels of coronavirus infections in England since January. Imperial College London’s newly published React study found that infections have dropped by two-thirds across England since lockdown began, with an 80% fall in London.
Meanwhile, an expert has “told the Commons Science and Technology Committee that reviews of evidence shown that schools could have safely reopened sooner and that outdoor spreading of the virus was very rare”, The Guardian reports.
Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, added that “we do have reasons to be more confident that we can move out of lockdown swifter than we could have done out of the first one”.
However, other experts warned of the need for “careful” in the reopening of schools, while Johnson - who has been criticised for ending previous lockdowns too soon - insisted that England will ease Covid measures “cautiously”.