Tags: Coronavirus | UK | social | distancing | easing | lockdown | hancock

U.K. Set to Ease Lockdown, Social Distancing Rules This Week

Sunday, 21 June 2020 07:47 AM

The U.K. government will spell out its plans to further ease lockdown measures this week, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, as the number of virus cases and deaths continue to decline.

“This week we will announce further details of the measures that we can take to relieve some of the national lockdown measures at start of July,” Hancock said in an interview with the BBC on Sunday. “The number of new infections is coming down, the number of people on ventilated beds in hospital for instance is coming down, and thankfully the number of people who are dying is coming down.”

The country is on track to reopen further parts of the economy including hospitality businesses starting on July 4, he said in a separate interview with Sky News. The government will set out details on whether it will relax the 2 meter (6 feet 7 inches) social distancing rule this week, he said, noting that this could be done in combination with other measures such as wearing masks or perspex screens in shops.

The U.K. has the highest death toll in Europe from the virus, and the OECD predicts it will suffer the worst economic fallout out of all advanced economies this year. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has been facing criticism for weeks over its handling of the pandemic.

His administration is now under pressure from pubs and other parts of the entertainment and hospitality industry to relax social-distancing measures sufficiently to allow them to re-open in a financially viable way. Johnson is likely to make an announcement on upcoming changes on Tuesday, the Telegraph reported separately.

Hancock would not rule out hairdressers being able to open in July, nor would he rule out requirements for pub customers to register contact details so they could be traced if needed. “There are other countries in the world that take that approach and there’s a reason for it,” he said.

The opposition Labour Party will back a move away from the two-meter rule under certain circumstances, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said on the BBC. Still, the U.K. needs to make better use of face masks, face shields for vulnerable workers and getting a test-and-trace system up and running, he said.

The U.K. has abandoned efforts to create its own track-and-trade mobile app and will instead use Apple Inc. and Google technology. Hancock previously pledged the technology would be ready in the middle of May. Asked on Sky when it might be ready, he said “given my experience over the last three or four months on this one, I’m not going to put a date on it, we’ll just work incredibly hard to make it happen.”

Johnson’s poll ratings have plunged in recent weeks, and he may dismiss key figures who have underperformed during the crisis, the Guardian reported. Education secretary Gavin Williamson, communities secretary Robert Jenrick and work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey could be vulnerable to changes expected in September.

Meanwhile, ministers will need to continue working on fighting the virus.

Peter Piot, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said on the BBC that while some countries including the U.K. are succeeding in getting virus cases down, there’s “no time for complacency” and that a second wave is almost certain. “The virus has not gone away and it will not go away one fine day,” he said.

© Copyright 2020 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


   
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The U.K. government will spell out its plans to further ease lockdown measures this week, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, as the number of virus cases and deaths continue to decline."This week we will announce further details of the measures that we can take to...
UK, social, distancing, easing, lockdown, hancock, johnson
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2020-47-21
Sunday, 21 June 2020 07:47 AM
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