The Chancellor of the Exchequer has outlined the conditions the UK must meet for the lockdown to be lifted, while warning that the country has not got there them yet.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Rishi Sunak said the Government was determined to maintain social distancing restrictions until it could be sure the number of cases wouldn’t go up again.

He said: “As we look forward towards the next stage in our battle against this disease, there are encouraging signs that we are making progress.

“But before we consider it safe to adjust any of the current social distancing measures, we must be satisfied that we have met the five tests set out last week.”

The Chancellor added: “At this stage of the crisis we are absolutely focused on sticking to the guidance.

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, spoke at the Government’s press conference this evening
(Image: PA)

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The UK should be able to ease stringent social distancing measures when five separate measures are met.

These are that the NHS can continue to cope; that the daily death rate continues to fall; that the rate of infection also falls; that operational challenges have been met, “and most importantly that there is no risk of a second peak,” Mr Sunak said.

Referring to the Government’s five tests Mr Sunak said: “We are not there yet and it is very clear that, for now, what we should focus on is following the guidance, staying home to protect the NHS.

“Anything else that people might be speculating on is wrong, we are crystal clear on that message.”

The Chancellor warned that social distancing measures would remain in place until conditions had been met
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Prof Angela McLean, Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, told the press conference that the number of new cases “has stopped rising and is now pretty much stable and flat.”

However, it is unclear whether the daily death rate is likely to fall continuously over the coming days.

The Government is also concerned that there may be a second peak in terms of infections.

Earlier today the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The big concern is a second peak. That is what ultimately will do the most damage to health and the most damage to the economy.

Medical staff in protective gear processes a swab sample from a driver at a Covid-19 drive-through testing site
(Image: DIEGO AZUBEL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

“If you move too quickly then the virus can begin to spread exponentially again.

“The public will expect us to do everything we can to stop the spread and protect life.”

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Coronavirus outbreak

A further 463 patients have died in England, Scotland, and Wales Northern Ireland over the past 24 hours, it was reported earlier.

The rise is the lowest in two weeks and brings Britain’s death toll to 16,522.

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