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MPs Lambasted for Reluctance to Unveil COVID-19 ‘Exit Plan’ as Lockdown Extended for Three Weeks

© REUTERS / Toby MelvilleCyclists pass an electronic billboard displaying a Public health information campaign message from the UK government and local government in London as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, March 28, 2020.
Cyclists pass an electronic billboard displaying a Public health information campaign message from the UK government and local government in London as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, March 28, 2020. - Sputnik International
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On Thursday Britain’s coronavirus lockdown was extended by three weeks amid warnings of a potentially disastrous second peak if restrictions were eased too soon, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, deputising for the Prime Minister, conceding that the disease might not be fully contained until June.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has lashed out at UK MPs for a reluctance to sign off on the country’s lockdown “exit strategy” while Prime Minister Boris Johnson is at his country residence Chequers, recuperating from COVID-19.

“I think that throughout this they've struggled with taking decisions quickly enough... It feels as though they've been in a position probably for a week or 10 days now where it's been difficult for the Government to make big decisions. And I think there's a bit of that lying behind this as well,” said Starmer, speaking on the BBC's Coronavirus Newscast podcast on Thursday night.

Referring to the actions of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been deputizing for the Prime Minister, Starmer added:

“I suspect, although I don't know, that Dominic Raab is just reluctant - he probably does know that it's time for an exit strategy - but he's probably reluctant to sign it off without the Prime Minister and I think there's a bit of that in the mix.”

Earlier, UK Ministers revealed the country’s lockdown “exit strategy” would not be unveiled for at least two weeks, as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested medical and scientific advisers have been asked to present their options in a fortnight.

“We've said now that this three-week period will contain a review by the scientists at the end of this month, so that's actually only two weeks away, whilst they'll be reviewing this. And I hope we'll be in a position to provide, well I know we'll be in a position to provide, greater clarity,” the minister said on LBC radio.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon chimed in, insisting there was a need to “treat the public like grownups”, as she vowed to unveil her “framework” for exiting the current lockdown next week.

“I'm not going to set out next week the date on which lockdown will be lifted. What I'm going to try to do is set out the decision-making framework that we're operating in, so that we are treating the public like grown-ups that they are,” said Sturgeon on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

'Light at the End of the Tunnel'

On Thursday, announcing at Downing Street that the restrictions in place in the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic would be extended for at least another three weeks, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said there was “light at the end of the tunnel”, but rejected calls for an “exit strategy” to be unveiled now.

© AFP 2021 / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVASBritain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaves number 10 Downing street in central London after the daily Covid-19 briefing on April 15, 2020. - The new leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party urged the government today to set out how it plans to end the coronavirus lockdown, both to give people hope and avoid "mistakes" of the past.
MPs Lambasted for Reluctance to Unveil COVID-19 ‘Exit Plan’ as Lockdown Extended for Three Weeks - Sputnik International
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab leaves number 10 Downing street in central London after the daily Covid-19 briefing on April 15, 2020. - The new leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party urged the government today to set out how it plans to end the coronavirus lockdown, both to give people hope and avoid "mistakes" of the past.
“We are being as open as we responsibly can at this stage,” he said, offering five criteria for when restrictions might begin to be eased.

These are confirmation that the NHS will not be overwhelmed, a steady drop in the death rate, proof of transmission at a manageable level, wide scale testing and PPE available and lowered threat of a “second peak”.

© AFP 2021 / ISABEL INFANTESAn image of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II making her her address to the UK and the Commonwealth in relation to the coronavirus epidemic is displayed on the advertising boards at Piccadilly Circus in central London on April 9, 2020, as Britain continues to battle the outbreak of Coronavirus Covid-19 and warm weather tests the nationwide lockdown as the long Easter weekend approaches. - The disease has struck at the heart of the British government, infected more than 60,000 people nationwide and killed over 7,000, with a daily death toll in England of 765 reported on April 9.
MPs Lambasted for Reluctance to Unveil COVID-19 ‘Exit Plan’ as Lockdown Extended for Three Weeks - Sputnik International
An image of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II making her her address to the UK and the Commonwealth in relation to the coronavirus epidemic is displayed on the advertising boards at Piccadilly Circus in central London on April 9, 2020, as Britain continues to battle the outbreak of Coronavirus Covid-19 and warm weather tests the nationwide lockdown as the long Easter weekend approaches. - The disease has struck at the heart of the British government, infected more than 60,000 people nationwide and killed over 7,000, with a daily death toll in England of 765 reported on April 9.
“Overall, we still don't have the infection rate down as far as we need to… Any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus… If we rush to relax the measures that we have in place we would risk wasting all the sacrifices and all the progress that has been made,” said Raab.
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