How will lockdown come to an end in the UK?
- Credit: Archant
As some countries across Europe start to ease lockdown restrictions we look at when and how the process could happen here in the UK.
When is the lockdown being reviewed here? And what is likely to happen?
When the lockdown was announced the Government said that the plans would be reviewed around every three weeks, this would mean that we would be due to see a review on Monday.
This is likely to be delayed as PM Boris Johnson remains in hospital.
The likelihood is that even when that review does come restrictions would not be eased because we are yet to see the peak of this virus.
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There have been fears it could become more stringent if people continue to flout the rules but Nick Hancock MP has said there are no “imminent” plans to change this.
Where has lockdown been eased so far?
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In the city of Wuhan in China, where the outbreak began, restrictions have started to ease this week, allowing people to travel but also only allowing people out of their homes for limited amounts of time. Schools remain shut.
Some European countries are looking at easing restrictions such as Norway, Denmark, Austria and the Czech Republic.
Norway and Denmark are looking at opening schools to younger pupils in the next few weeks, while Austria and the Czech Republic are looking to gradually re-open some shops to the public.
There are still concerns about easing lockdown too early after countries like Japan and Singapore saw a rise in the number of infections after easing conditions there.
It’s important to note that all the European countries looking to ease lockdown are a lot smaller than the UK in terms of population; Norway and Denmark for example have populations less than a tenth of the number of people living in the UK.
All these countries have had fewer cases of coronavirus and as a result fewer deaths.
Cases in each of these countries had also begun to stabilise or drop in the past few days while experts in the UK say that we have yet to see a peak.
What will be needed to ease lockdown in the UK?
It’s not clear what the specific measures needed to ensure lockdown are, as they have not been outlined by the government or scientists in public.
Deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries has said that the UK must continue to be “responsible” before the lockdown can be lifted “gradually”, adding that the process was likely to be “spaced”.
What are the numbers showing?
Data from a specially designed Covid-19 symptom tracker app suggests the rate of new symptoms being reported nationally has slowed down in the past few days.
Researchers say the drop indicates that, although the number of hospital admissions and deaths in the UK are still rising, they should start to fall in about two weeks if social distancing continues.
The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance also said on Tuesday that the figures “could be moving in the right direction” - taking us closer to the end of lockdown.
When will the schools open?
Former Suffolk headmaster and general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders Geoff Barton, said it remained unclear when students would be going back to school at this stage.
Mr Barton said: “We don’t know how long the shutdown of schools will last but it doesn’t seem likely that they will go back any time soon.
“However, social distancing would be a lot more challenging in the event of more pupils going back to school and this would need to be carefully thought through.
“One possibility is a phased return with certain year groups returning first of all.
“If mass testing for coronavirus becomes available this might also help to facilitate a return to something approaching normality.
“However, this is all speculative at this stage, and the truth of the matter is that finding a route back to the reopening of schools is extremely challenging.
“We will clearly need to find a solution because the impact of a prolonged closure of schools is damaging to the education of children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
When will lock down end in the UK?
That’s the big question and initially the Government said we should be looking at a minimum period of 13 weeks - three months, which would take us to the end of June.
Whether that time frame will be extended remains to be seen. For now the Government is asking us to stick to social distancing measures and comply with the lockdown in the hope that the date will be sooner rather than later.