Dominic Raab has told the public to “follow the guidance” and resist the urge to linger out of doors this bank holiday weekend, despite the sunshine and warm temperatures that has been forecast.
Speaking at the Downing Street briefing, the Foreign Secretary insisted there will be no change to social distancing rules until the Prime Minister makes an address to the nation on Sunday evening.
Mr Raab said on Thursday: “Any changes in the short term will be modest, small, incremental and very carefully monitored.”
He added: “For the moment it is really important, particularly as people look towards a warm bank holiday weekend, that we continue to follow the guidance in place at this time.”
He denied Boris Johnson had been “unhelpful” in hinting at a change to the lockdown just before the bank holiday, but without offering any detail as to what it might entail.
Much of the UK will be bathed in glorious sunshine, with temperatures expected to soar up to 26C (78.8F) on the VE Day bank holiday on Friday – before falling again over the weekend.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said previously: “There is no change to the advice.
“We are asking people to stay at home in order to stop the spread of the virus and, by doing so, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Asked if that meant “don’t sunbathe this weekend”, the spokesman said: “If you want to put it like that.”
Speculation about the possible measures being considered for Monday has centred on outdoor activities, and the spokesman acknowledged that “there is evidence of a much reduced rate of transmission outdoors compared to confined indoor spaces”.
But the spokesman stressed: “The social distancing rules remain in place, people have abided by them so far, we are enormously grateful for the sacrifices they have made.
“Those sacrifices have made a real difference in driving down the rate of transmission and we would ask them to stick with it.”
Chief Superintendent Karen Findlay, of the Met Police, urged Londoners to continue to stick to the lockdown rules, adding officers would be on patrol in public spaces to help enforce them.
“Enforcement will always be a last resort where it is absolutely necessary,” she said.
“The vast majority of people are, and I thank them for their continued support and cooperation at this challenging time, in order to prevent the spread of the virus and extra burden on our NHS colleagues.”
The coronavirus pandemic also means that mass celebrations for the 75th anniversary of VE Day have also been shelved.
Despite the Government’s attempts to get the UK to comply fully with the lockdown, researchers have warned that discipline is slipping.
Analysis of geographical data by UCL suggested people’s movements had increased since April 19.
The researchers examined in-app mobile data and demographic indicators and found that activity levels – defined as the number of unique mobile devices used per hour in each study area – declined during the first five weeks of lockdown, but have ticked up since then.
Professor James Cheshire, UCL geography and deputy director of the ESRC consumer data research centre, said: “Our analysis suggests that people have been adhering to the lockdown rules and taking them very seriously over the first month or so.
“But by early May we’ve started to see a shift with more activity in recent days.
“It may be that people have started to increase their movements in anticipation of the Government announcement expected this weekend for easing lockdown.”