British PM to announce easing of lockdown?

British PM Boris Johnson returns to work, expected to announce plans for the easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

Elad Benari ,

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce plans for the easing of the lockdown imposed on the country in the wake of the coronavirus, The Telegraph reported on Sunday.

According to the report, the plans could be announced as early as this week. Sky News reported earlier on Sunday that Johnson arrived back at 10 Downing Street after spending several weeks recovering from coronavirus.

The Prime Minister will on Monday morning chair his first meeting of the COVID-19 “war cabinet” since he was taken to hospital more than three weeks ago, and is ready to resume his role hosting televised press conferences, according to The Telegraph.

Allies have hinted that he could decide to "modify" elements of the lockdown before it is set to expire on May 7, as he is increasingly bullish about the possibility of altering restrictions if scientific advice allows for it.

One ally of Johnson said, “May 7 is the day when the Government is legally obliged to review the lockdown measures but if Boris wants to change the restrictions earlier than that, or at least announce something before that, then he could go sooner.”

“Talking about lifting the lockdown is using the wrong language, we need to be talking about modifying the lockdown,” added the ally. “There is definitely a sense that we could be doing more than we are at the moment in terms of people being to work, especially if they are working outdoors.”

Johnson originally announced the lockdown on March 23, imposing curbs on everyday life without precedent in peacetime.

The British Prime Minister was admitted to the hospital in early April after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He was transferred to intensive care a day later when his condition deteriorated and was discharged a week later.

The Telegraph noted that the number of deaths in hospitals fell to 413 on Sunday, the lowest number this month and a 58 percent reduction on the peak.

The number of new cases of the virus also fell, as did the number of people in hospital with the virus as the medical director of NHS England said there was a “very definite trend” in reduced admissions.

With a record number of hospital beds now empty and the head of the Birmingham Nightingale Hospital reporting that it has not treated a single patient, Johnson will face growing calls from the Cabinet on Monday to publicly state the way forward.

Johnson is understood to have discussed with ministers the idea of “modifying” the lockdown rather than lifting it, to get across the message that restrictions will remain in place even if workplaces and schools start to reopen, according to The Telegraph.

He will be given updated scientific advice from Government experts later this week, and is expected to take the opportunity to set out a “roadmap” for moving beyond the current restrictions to give the public and businesses clarity about the direction he intends to take.

Ministers have discussed whether businesses with large premises such as garden centers and car showrooms where social distancing can easily be adhered to should be allowed to open.

Discussions are also at an advanced stage over how and when schools will return and what measures may be needed to keep pupils and staff safe.