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Brandon Lewis tries to calm expectations ahead of coronavirus lockdown review and says furlough scheme may be extended

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Brandon Lewis revealed the PPE was not up to scratch (Niall Carson/PA)

Brandon Lewis revealed the PPE was not up to scratch (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Brandon Lewis revealed the PPE was not up to scratch (Niall Carson/PA)

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said people should not read too much into media reports of plans to lift current restrictions, stressing “no decisions” have yet been made.

He also said the Government has not ruled out extending the furlough scheme beyond June.

Boris Johnson will thrash out the final details of his exit strategy today as he leads a meeting of Cabinet ministers, three weeks after the last review of social distancing measures.

But Mr Lewis urged the public to err on the side of caution, saying: “Although we believe we are through the peak of this virus we are very cautious to ensure that we don’t get a second peak."

He told BBC Breakfast: "I would just say to people to not get too carried away with what we may be reading and just wait until the Government guidelines and the Prime Minister’s statement.

"The safest thing to do at the moment with this virus and the way it spreads is wherever you can stay home.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme about the furlough scheme, he said: "If we need to extend furlough beyond June we will do that, but we're going to do this in stages when we have a better understanding of where we are in terms of the cycle of the virus and the impact on the economy at that stage."

In a separate interview with Sky News on Thursday morning, Mr Lewis explained: "We will be discussing some of the options and the advice that is being put to us in Cabinet later on today.

"The Prime Minister will then outline if there are going to be any changes.

“But I think we’ve got to understand that this is a pandemic and a virus that spreads so easily that we have to be very cautious as we look at how we come out of the current lockdown.”

Independent News Service