Five tests for relaxing lockdown ‘not optional’ govt warns

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Lockdown restrictions will not be lifted in the near future meaning families in separate households are likely to remain apart for weeks more.

Following comments by Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon, there had been speculation the Government was considering easing the rules to allow gatherings of up to 10 friends or family members.

However Home Secretary Priti Patel, leading the daily coronavirus briefing for the cabinet, said "five tests" set out by the Government that must be met before lockdown is eased were "not optional."

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, also explained why any such relaxations were some way off.

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Ms Patel thanked the British public for "fostering a spirit of national unity" and said their sacrifices were "undoubtedly saving lives."

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, at the daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday April 25

But she added: "We are not out of danger yet, it is imperative that people continue to follow the rules designed to protect their friends, their families and their loved ones. This will continue to save lives.

"We all want to return to living our lives as normally as possible and of course as soon and as safely as we can and that is what the entire government is working towards.

"But the five tests we have laid out must be met before we can ease these life saving restrictions."

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Sky News reporter Lisa Holland asked why, if people in a household had stayed at home and not shown symptoms, they could not see people from other specific households.

Prof. Powis replied: "I know absolutely how difficult it is particularly for those who want to visit loved ones…

"But I think it is important to remember one of the main ways this virus is spread and transmitted is from household to household; and so the very basis of the social distancing measures that was put in a number of weeks ago was to interrupt that chain of spread from household to household.

"I think we have seen that that, and the other measures, are working….

"I think the British public have done fantastically well to keep complying with those measures and to break those chains of transmission.

Nicola Sturgeon arriving for a special coronavirus Covid-19 social distancing First Ministers Questions at the Scottish Parliament,

"But I think we would all be disappointed if we forfeited those gains by releasing too early and by allowing those chains of transmission from household to household to be reestablished, because then we would start going backwards, then the virus would start to transmit and spread more and those downwards curves that we're seeing would unfortunately start to rise again.

"So it's too early yet, we need to be confident, as in the five tests the government has set, that we really are on top of this virus before we proceed to the next phase."

Here are the government's five tests:

  1. We must protect the NHS' ability to cope. We must be confident we are able to provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment right across the UK.
  2. We need to see a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate from coronavirus so we can be confident we have moved beyond the peak
  3. We need to have reliable data from SAGE showing that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board
  4. We need to be confident that the range of operational challenges including testing capacity and PPE are in hand with supply able to meet future demand
  5. We need to be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelm the NHS

Today the national death toll from coronavirus exceeded 20,000 for the first time, with Liverpool's death rate reaching 302.

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