Boris Johnson: "Still too early to ease lockdown measures"

Boris Johnson has urged people not to lose patience with the lockdown but he is not yet able to give an indication of when current measures will be relaxed.  

Speaking for the first time since recovering from the virus, the prime minister said he understood concerns from business owners who are impatient to end the lockdown but, he said, ending it too soon could cause “economic disaster” and restrictions would need to be reintroduced if there was a second spike in cases and more deaths.

He thanked the public for giving up their basic freedoms and said he understood how tough it has been, particularly on businesses, entrepreneurs and the hospitality sector, and that the economy was suffering.

But, he said, an early exit from lockdown could result in a “new wave of death”.

“That would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster and we will be forced again to slam on the brakes across the whole country, and whole economy, and reimpose restrictions in such a way as to do more and lasting damage.

“I want to get this economy moving as fast as I can, but I refuse to throw away all the effort and sacrifice of the British people and risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life and overwhelming the NHS.”

He said the government understands that this can’t go on forever and in today’s briefing he reassured the public that the route out is being mapped out, “even if it isn’t being spelled out”.

He added there will be a point in the future when the UK could “fire up the engines of this vast UK economy”.

He has promised more information on this in the coming days and Johnson is expected to regularly host the morning Covid-19 response meetings.

The next three-week review of the current lockdown measures will take place on May 7. 

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