14 April 2020

Coronavirus update: UK expected to extend lockdown to May 7; Spain and Italy relax measures; Macron sends stark message to French people

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab is expected to extend the lockdown of the UK for three more weeks when he addresses the nation on Thursday.

The extension will take Britain up to May 7, with measures potentially being relaxed from then on.

Raab, who is filling in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he continues his recovery from COVID-19, will look to secure a UK-wide deadline by conducting a Cobra meeting with devolved leaders such as Scotland's Nicola Sturgeon and Wales' Mark Drakeford, according to The Times.

There is said to be a split within the cabinet as to whether extending the lockdown further should be prioritised over a relaxation of measures in a bid to help the ailing economy.

Heath secretary Matt Hancock is firmly of the belief that people should remain at home until it is safe to go back to work, while others in government feel there are economic and health benefits to some members of the public returning to their jobs.

The death toll in the UK now stands at 11,329, with 88,621 people having tested positive for the virus.

Elsewhere in Europe, Spain, which has seen 18,056 deaths, has started allowing workers in sectors such as construction and manufacturing to return to work as the infection and death rate continues to fall.

On Tuesday, Spain reported 3,268 new cases of the virus, down from 8,271 at the country's peak nearly three weeks ago.

In Italy, where 20,465 people have died, some workers will also be allowed to return to their jobs on Tuesday.

However, the majority of the population in both Spain and Italy remain in lockdown until the infection rate declines further.

In contrast, French President Macron has announced an extension to the country's lockdown which will take them up to May 11.

He took the time to thank the nation for its co-operation during this difficult period, but insisted cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants as well as mass gatherings would not be allowed until as late as mid-July.

Schools and colleges could re-open following the May 11 deadline, but this will depend on the fall in infections.

Other European countries such as the Czech Republic, Austria, Denmark, Norway and the Faroe Islands are preparing to re-open some shops, schools and recreational centres as they look to become the first batch of nations to come out of a strict lockdown.

The US is now the world's worst-hit country with 587,173 cases and 23,644 deaths, with more than 10,000 fatalities coming in New York alone.

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