Coronavirus: Parts of UK could move at 'different speeds' to lift lockdowns, government confirms

·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Boris Johnson, pictured walking through London's St James's Park on Wednesday, told leaders of the devolved nations that their lockdowns could be lifted at 'different speeds'. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)
Boris Johnson, pictured walking through London's St James's Park on Wednesday, told leaders of the devolved nations that their lockdowns could be lifted at 'different speeds'. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)

Different parts of the UK could move at “different speeds” to lift their coronavirus lockdowns, the government has confirmed.

Boris Johnson told leaders of the devolved nations – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – that while he is committed to a “UK-wide approach”, there may be “slight” differences in when each nation is able to begin lifting its restrictions.

He spoke with Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford and Michelle O’Neill on Thursday afternoon.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “During the call, the prime minister emphasised that this is a critical moment in the fight against coronavirus and that the government will not throw away the efforts and sacrifices of the British people.

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“He was clear that we will not risk a second peak that could overwhelm the NHS and we will act with maximum caution in order to save lives.

“He reiterated his commitment to continuing our UK-wide approach to tackling coronavirus, even if different parts of the UK begin to move at slightly different speeds. Those decisions will be made based on the science for each nation.

“They all agreed that continued engagement between our administrations is vital and to remain in close contact in the days and weeks ahead.”

It comes as Dominic Raab confirmed at Downing Street’s daily coronavirus press conference that the UK lockdown has been extended.

However, at 7pm on Sunday, Boris Johnson will give an address to the nation setting out the government’s exit strategy.

Raab said: “The prime minister will set out a roadmap that can look to the future and explain what steps will be taken at what time.”

Speaking at prime minister’s questions (PMQs) on Wednesday, Johnson had suggested the easing of the lockdown will begin on Monday.

“We want if we possibly can to get going with some of these measures on Monday,” he told MPs.

Amid confusion at the government’s stance, Johnson also warned on Thursday that the government will proceed with “maximum caution”.

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