Pockets of UK where Coronavirus infections spike after lockdown eases face tighter restrictions, minister says

THE government has said it will "make interventions" in "micro communities" if they see local infection spikes.

Under the Prime Minister's blueprint to end lockdown, the whole nation will see the tough restrictions gradually eased at the same time, with the end of May targeted.

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However the government today admitted they could be quickly re-imposed on certain areas that see a rise in coronavirus cases.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: "Our strong preference is that our whole country moves as one.

"But if it's required for us to make interventions in smaller, sort of micro-communities, where you're seeing the virus take hold again, then that will be something that we consider as other countries around the world have done where they've implemented effective track and trace systems.

"But that's quite different from making major changes to lockdown measures in one part of the country to another and our strong preference is for the whole country to move as one."

The plan to "hit hard" any Covid-19 hotspots that erupt when the lockdown is lifted has been dubbed a "whack-a-mole" strategy within Whitehall.

The move to single out specific towns has infuriated the nation's nine regional mayors.

Fears deepened of longer lockdowns for some towns as it emerged the crisis in London – where the outbreak started – could be over sooner than in other parts of the UK.

There are now less people being treated in hospital with Covid-19 in the capital than in the North West.

We reported how the mayors mounted a joint protest to Mr Johnson during a conference call with him last week.

They argued that leaving some pockets of the country unable to keep up with others in the national recovery would be "unsustainable" as well as "deeply divisive and unfair".

It comes as the PM said social distancing restrictions will start to be lifted from Monday.

The three-week review of lockdown restrictions must take place tomorrow but Mr Johnson won't set out changes until Sunday.

More than one form of daily exercise is expected to be among the first signs of easing.

Earlier, Matt Hancock, the health secretary, indicated outdoor cafés could soon open.

He told Sky News: "There is strong evidence that outdoors the spread is much, much lower, so there may be workarounds that some businesses, for instance cafés, may be able to put into place."

Mr Johnson has promised plans for socially distanced work, travel and schooling as part of the "roadmap" out of the nation's virtual house arrest.

A total of 30,076 people in the UK have now died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community, up by 649 from Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the number of deaths recorded in the UK passed Italy's total, becoming the highest in Europe.


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