DOWNING Street yesterday insisted easing lockdown will not spark a new coronavirus spike as long as everyone still keeps two metres apart.
Some nervous scientists worry restrictions are being relaxed too fast — especially when so many sun-seeking Brits have been flouting current rules.
They said the UK death rate is higher than in other European countries when they took similar “unlockdown” measures and that more precautions should be in place.
But the PM’s official spokesman hit back: “We are easing measures in a very gradual and cautious way. It is still We all still need to play our part. It’s important to follow social distancing guidelines.”
No10 also said Boris Johnson is ready to order immediate tougher local lockdowns. The spokesman added: “The PM said there will be local outbreaks. Where necessary we will put the breaks on and reimpose measures”.
As the row went on: The Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre still kept the coronavirus alert rate at level four despite the PM’s insistence last week that it was moving down to three.
Downing Street admitting that the Test and Trace programme was not yet operating at full capacity — despite that being a condition to relaxing rules; and Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged the Government will press on with its roadmap out of lockdown, saying all shops will reopen in two weeks.
Calls for an “unlockdown” pause were backed in a rare public intervention by the Association of Directors of Public Health as well as the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
Meanwhile Health Secretary Matt Hancock put yesterday’s daily number of nationwide coronavirus deaths at 111 — the lowest since lockdown began on 23 March.
Critics said the figure was down because of the drop in weekend reporting, and that the average number of deaths over a week are flatlining between 300 and 400 a day.
Mr Hancock said the 25,000-strong contact tracing programme to isolate new contagion chains “is up and running” and “successful”. But he did not say how many new cases have been traced by its teams, nor how many people they have so far told to isolate.
As temperatures hit 81F (27C), thousands of Brits raced to beaches, parks and beauty spots. And a long-awaited reunion for friends and family finally got underway in back gardens amid a BBQ bonanza.
Open air markets selling non-essential goods reopened too.