The British government has again warned residents to resist the temptations of the weekend, with warm weather expected over the Easter break, and the national shutdown to slow coronavirus still in place.
The United Kingdom government is conducting its first three-weekly reviews into the state of the lockdown, but with the rate of the infection and mortality not having yet peaked in the country, residents are being warned to not expect any kind of let-up in the draconian lockdown any time soon.
Making clear that the lockdown is not yet to be lifted, and wouldn’t be for weeks yet, the emergency stand-in for Prime Minister Boris Johnson — Dominic Raab, who is deputising while Mr Johnson recovers from coronavirus in hospital — said nothing would change until the government had clear evidence the country was past the peak of infection.
Speaking from the Downing Street press conference Thursday afternoon, Mr Raab said: “As we look forward to the long Easter Weekend, I know some people are going to start wondering is it time to ease up on the rules. So I have to say thank you for your sacrifice, but also we’re not done yet. We must keep going.
“…I appreciate it is often the little things that hurt the most, with the Easter bank holiday coming up… Unfortunately, right now we just can’t do those sorts of things, and I’m really sorry about that.”
Mr Raab said the government was starting to see the impact of the lockdown after nearly three weeks, but emphasised: “the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus, so it’s still too early to lift the measures we’ve put in place. We must stick to the plan and we must continue to be guided by the science… So please, stay home this bank holiday weekend for everyone’s sake.”
Boris Johnson in Intensive Care: ‘Making Positive Steps Forwards, in Good Spirits’ https://t.co/Jii7aYz4to
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 9, 2020
The comments make clear the lockdown will last until May, at least. The government previously asserted that schools and nurseries were to remain closed, one of the greatest steps towards reopening the economy, as modern working practices mean mothers are often not able to care for their own children while they travel to distant jobs.
The updates came amid some extraordinary attempted power grabs by police forces, with “at least five chief constables”, reports The Guardian, urging the government to make the lockdown — already the worst in British history — tougher.
One chief constable who caused major concern Thursday was Nick Adderley of Northamptonshire police. He was forced to clarify comments after his Thursday morning press conference went viral on social media, with Britons expressing concern at his remarks that police officers could soon be deployed to supermarkets to check the contents of shopping baskets, to ensure people were only buying essential items.
Chief Adderley said Thursday: “we will not at this stage be starting to marshall supermarkets and checking the items in baskets and trolleys to see whether it is a legitimate or necessary item. But again, be under no illusion if people do not heed the warnings and the pleas that I am making today, we will start to do that. We have much more to do.”
Explaining that he’d been misunderstood, Chief Adderley took to Facebook live on Thursday afternoon to apologise for his “clumsy” language. He clarified: “this morning there was a number of media reports… and I think there was as really short grabbed clip of one of the statements that I made that caused consternation on social media… I may have been clumsy in that language.”
He continued: “Northamptonshire police will not carry out basket or trolley searches… what I was trying to refer to was, were may get to a stage where the purposes of someone’s journey may be questioned by an officer. Not searching trolleys and baskets. Confusion has existed, please let me clarify we’re not in that business.”
The senior officer went on to explain that what constitutes an essential purchase can be difficult to ascertain, giving the example of an individual who had been criticised on social media for buying a BBQ. Chief Adderley noted that mental, as well as physical health, was important during the lockdown, and if grilling together could make a family happy, that would be acceptable.
Several police forces have also encouraged citizens to inform on their neighbours, even setting up dedicated online portals for reports to be made about perceived non-compliance, moves which have inevitably drawn comparisons with the culture of informing in totalitarian regimes, such as Communist Eastern Germany’s Stasi.