The government has announced an extension to the coronavirus lockdown for “at least” a further three weeks.
The decision was announced at today’s (16 April) press briefing which was led by foreign secretary Dominic Raab. It also comes after Raab led an emergency Cobra committee and cabinet meetings about the continuation of social distancing measures earlier this morning.
During the briefing, Rabb said any change to the UK’s social distancing measures now would risk a “significant increase in the spread of the virus”, that would threaten a second peak of the virus and substantially increase the number of deaths. “It would undo the progress we have made to date,” he added.
He continued: “Early relaxation would do more damage to the economy over the longer period. I want to be really clear about this, the advice from Sage is that relaxing any of the measures currently in place would do more damage to both public health and our economy.
“Based on this advice, which we have very carefully considered, the government has decided that the current measures must remain in place for the next three weeks.”
He added that the government could subsequently decide to relax the measures in some respects, while strengthening them in others.
The news comes just days after the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed the UK economy could shrink by as much as 35% in the second quarter of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The watchdog is also predicting a 13% drop in annual GDP as a result of the outbreak, which it said would “comfortably exceed” any of the annual falls around the end of each world war or in the financial crisis.