The UK’s lockdown measures are still being debated and nothing is finalized, but the country’s stay-at-home message is likely to be eased this weekend, an official familiar with the deliberations told CNN.
The official said changes would likely include allowing Britons to expand their social groups. It was still being discussed how that expansion would be defined.
The UK has the second-highest death toll from the virus in the world following the US.
The official was confident that Sunday would see the UK government dropping “stay at home” as a core part of its message.
They said shops including hardware stores or garden centers — mostly outdoor stores — would probably be allowed to reopen. Pubs, cafes, restaurants and department stores were not expected to reopen for the foreseeable future.
Separately, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said the UK will “advance with maximum caution” when it does begin easing coronavirus restrictions.
“We will be guided at every step by the science and the data and we will closely track the impact of any easing of the social distancing measures and will not hesitate to tighten the rules if required.”
The spokesman added the British Prime Minister wanted to maintain a “four nation approach,” regarding the lifting of restrictions.
Earlier, Scotland’s leader Nicola Sturgeon said it is her “preference” for all four UK governments to make changes at the same point but if Johnson decides to move at a faster pace she will respect his decision.
Johnson’s spokesperson said a four-nation approach for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales provides “the best way forward.”
“The four nations entered the restrictions at the same time and should, where it makes sense, exit the restrictions at the same time. We agree that the only circumstances where there should be divergence is when there is evidence that supports it.”
The UK economy is heading for its worst crash in more than 300 years because of the pandemic according to a new forecast from the Bank of England.
The spokesperson acknowledged the toll the current measures were having on the British economy, but reiterated the warning that a second spike would be even more devastating.