Britain’s coronavirus lockdown is to continue as the country heads towards one of its biggest holiday weekends of the year while the death toll keeps growing, it was announced Thursday.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announced the decision after chairing a meeting of Britain’s emergency COBRA committee.
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He announced there had been a further 881 hospital deaths linked to the virus in the previous 24 hours. It brought Britain’s death toll to 7,978.
The good news was that Johnson was on Thursday evening moved out of intensive care after nearly four days in an intensive care unit, but remained in hospital.
A No. 10 spokesperson said the prime minister will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery. “He is in extremely good spirits,” the spokesperson said.
Johnson introduced the lockdown on March 23, telling all citizens to stay at home, with outside journeys limited.
The fear was that a relaxation of the lockdown could risk seeing millions of people heading to seaside resorts and tourism hotspots during the four-day Easter holiday which starts Friday and lasts until Monday.
Raab urged people to stay at home during the holiday rather than heading out. There had been speculation that the lockdown could have been made more stringent.
“At this stage, the government continues to gather data to determine the effects of the lockdown and physical distancing measures,” he said.
He said it was too soon to say conclusively whether the measures were working.
But Raab said most people were following the instructions to limit their activities and to practice social distancing.
He said until the pandemic reaches beyond its peak in Britain it is too early to lift the lockdown measures. “We’re not done yet, we must keep going,” Raab said at a Downing Street briefing.
He said the government would carry out a further review in a week’s time. “There will be no decision on whether to extend the lockdown until the end of next week,” he said.
A relaxation is not expected until after scientists are convinced Britain has reached its peak.
In a plea to the British public, Raab said: “Let’s not ruin it now, let’s not waste the gains we’ve made. I know its tough going but this is a team effort and we will only beat the virus if we all stay the course.”
Although most people are adhering to the instruction, there are fears that with hot and sunny weather, and a temperature of 27 degrees Celsius forecast, some families may break the lockdown rules and leave home to enjoy the Easter Holiday.
Media reports in Britain said some police forces say officers will arrest people who break the lockdown rules.
Extra police patrols will be visible on motorways and major roads leading to tourism destinations.
Usually, around 10 million people head to visitor destinations in Britain during an Easter weekend, generating several billion U.S. dollars for the tourism industry.
The current rules stipulate occasions when people are allowed to leave their homes, covering shopping for essentials to heading outdoors close to home to exercise, with a requirement to stay at least two meters away from other people at all times.
Source: Xinhua – LONDON