U.K. Likely to Extend Virus Lockdown by Weeks, Officials Say

(Bloomberg) --

The U.K. is likely to extend its partial lock down by weeks as it seeks to contain the spread of coronavirus, according to two government officials familiar with the plan.

Stringent restrictions on movements were announced on March 23 and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said they would be reviewed after three weeks. That time will be up on Monday, though Johnson’s spokesman James Slack suggested there’s some flexibility over when the review will take place.

“You shouldn’t necessarily assume it will be on the specific day,” he told reporters on Wednesday, adding that a decision would come “on or around the three-week mark.”

With the premier in a hospital critical care unit suffering from the virus and the country’s death toll rising, ministers are still waiting for infections to reach a peak. There’s not enough evidence yet to justify relaxing the restrictions, though discussions are ongoing and no formal decision has yet been taken, according to the officials, who asked not to be named because the plans are private.

One of the officials said the restrictions are likely to be rolled over for another three weeks, in line with the previous period, while the other said it would be for weeks.

Under the measures put in place, most shops are closed, as are pubs, clubs and leisure centers. People are allowed to leave their homes to exercise, buy essential supplies or to go to work if required, but should otherwise stay in.

Ministers won’t have enough data on how well the current measures are working until next week, making it hard to relax them, one of the officials said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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