Lockdown could start being lifted on May 26

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) may advise the lockdown last longer if infections are not shown to have fallen. A Number 10 source described May 26 as the most likely day for restrictions to be eased. But, they added, a final date was “very much a live conversation”.

This is the Tuesday after the second May bank holiday.

Plans are being drawn up to give businesses two weeks to prepare so they can ensure social distancing can be maintained.

The Track and Trace programme will begin on May 18, giving extra protection against a second wave.

A senior Government figure told The Sun “our best hope” was the last week of May.

However, not all sectors will be allowed to go back so soon.

Hospitality and entertainment are expected to remain closed for longer.

Other restrictions such as bans on social gatherings will likely continue to be enforced.

A senior official who was present when Boris Johnson explained his strategy to nine regional mayors said: “Boris was pretty upbeat and bullish about his plan, but pretty cautious about applying a timeframe.

“He made it clear throughout that avoiding a second peak in his priority.”

Schools are not expected to be told to reopen until June.

This will allow schools to close easier if a second wave occurs.

Schools were scheduled to break for summer in July.

A Cabinet source said: “We will need to do a massive confidence-building job as everyone is still terrified.

“We have to persuade people its safe to go back.

“Its all well and good central Government saying, do this now if the public dont want to.

“The truth is, in terms of timing the public are as big agents in this as we are.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock did not rule out parents facing fines if they did not send their children back.

He said: “We are not going to reopen schools if it isn’t safe.

“Of course, as and when reopen schools, our goal is to get back to the norm and the position as it was before.

“I’m confident, because we’ll only do it when it is safe, it will at that point be entirely reasonable and normal again to send your children to school.”


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