UK considers three-stage ‘traffic light’ plan to exit coronavirus lockdown
Michael Gove has poured cold water on reports that schools and some shops could be re-opened by next month in an easing of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
When asked about a government report first leaked to Buzzfeed about the UK’s three-stage lockdown exit plan, Gove said it was not correct that schools could be open by 11 May and that “it would be wrong to get ahead of ourselves”.
Multiple outlets reported this morning that the government has drawn up a three-stage coronavirus exit strategy that would see some lockdown measures lifted in just three weeks.
The so-called “traffic light” plan, a method first proposed in City A.M. earlier this month, would reportedly see schools open at the earliest on 11 May and some retail stores and garden centres opened by late May as a part of the first stage of the plan.
The Sunday Times reports that the second “amber phase” could see more businesses opening and some small social gatherings allowed by early June.
The government would also encourage people to return to work at this point.
The final stage, coming as early as late summer, would see pubs and restaurants back open and large social gatherings allowed.
However, people over the age of 70 or those considered vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus may have to stay inside until a vaccination can be widely administered.
Leading vaccinologist Sarah Gilbert, a professor at Oxford University, told the BBC today that her team was hoping to have a trial vaccine up and running by September, but that it was “very difficult to predict” when it could be ready to administer widely.
The Sunday Times report added that the three-stage plan could also begin at a later date in summer or early autumn, with a number of options to be presented to Boris Johnson.
It comes as the number of people to die in UK hospitals from Covid-19 hit 15,464 yesterday.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said earlier this week that the UK was now likely reaching the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, with the growth in new infections beginning to plateau.
When asked today about the potential three-stage plan to end the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, Gove told Sky News: ” I think it would be wrong to get ahead of ourselves here.
“It is the case that if we manage to ensure that the rate of infection has kept low, if we can see the rate of deaths falling, if we can make sure that the NHS’s capacity is as strong as it can be, then we can think about some of the steps we may be able to take in order to release some of the restrictions that are already in place.
“But the important thing is that we’re guided, as we have been throughout, by the facts and by the scientific advice that we receive and the facts and the advice are clear at the moment, that we should not be thinking of lifting these restrictions yet.”