Raab rejects calls for early lifting of coronavirus lockdown

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab brushed off a call from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for the Government to set out an ‘exit strategy’.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has rejected fresh calls for an early easing of the coronavirus lockdown, saying the outbreak was still at a “delicate and dangerous” stage.
The Government is coming under intense pressure from senior Tories to relax the strict social-distancing measures, amid concern at the damage they are doing to the economy.
But Mr Raab, who has been standing in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson while he recovers from the disease, said the Government would proceed “cautiously” in order to avoid a second peak in the outbreak.
“We are at a delicate and dangerous stage,” he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.
“We need to make sure that the next steps are sure-footed, which is why we are proceeding very cautiously and we are sticking to the scientific advice with the social-distancing measures at this time, whilst doing all the homework to make sure that we are prepared in due course for the next phase.”
Mr Raab brushed off a call from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for the Government to set out an “exit strategy” explaining how the lockdown could eventually be lifted.
“Until we can be confident, based on the scientific advice, that we are making sure-footed steps going forward that protect life, but also preserve our way of life, frankly it is not responsible to start speculating about the individual measures,” he said.
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK
Mr Johnson is due to return to work in Downing Street on Monday, after spending the past fortnight recuperating at his official country residence, Chequers.
Mr Raab said: “He is in good spirits. He is raring to go. He is looking forward to getting back at the reins on Monday.”
The Foreign Secretary confirmed that the Government was considering checks on people arriving at sea ports and airports in the UK.
Reports in The Sunday Telegraph and The Mail on Sunday said officials were drawing up plans for passengers to be quarantined for 14 days after entering the country.
Ministers have previously rejected such an approach, arguing it would have little impact given the low numbers coming into the UK and the rate of community transmission in the country.
However Mr Raab said: “We have continually, throughout, tested this with the scientists and with the chief medical officer to make sure that as the evidence changes we are able to take any new measures that are necessary.
“So that is something that we will be looking at. It could include the testing of people coming in. It could include social distancing.”

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