As expected, the government has extended the coronavirus lockdown for at least the next three weeks.
This means that the lockdown will last until at least Thursday May 7.
For most of our businesses this will now mean they will have been closed for seven weeks.
And how many of those smaller business will re-open when the lockdown is finally lifted is a major issue?
With the April 25 payday looming, many of our smaller companies will be struggling to pay wages.
This is despite the government’s cash rescue packages with one of the main avenues of monies not actually being open to applications until April 20 leaving little time to meet those wage payments.
In announcing the extension of the lockdown, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was very clear that there were five key points that had to be satisfied before any relaxation of the lockdown could be contemplated.
One that the NHS’s ability to cope had to be protected to provide sufficient critical care and special treatment right across the UK.
Two that there needs to be a fall in the daily death rate of decreasing to manageable levels.
Three that there needs to be reliable data from SAGE(the government coronavirus special committee) that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels.
Four that they need to be confident that the operational challenges, including testing capacity and PPE, are in hand with supply able to meet future demands.
And five which he said was “really crucial”. They had to be confident that any adjustments to the current measures would not affect a second peak of infection that would overwhelm the NHS.
“The worst thing we could do right now is to ease up too soon, allow a second peak of the virus to hit the NHS and hit the British people”, said Dominic Raab.
“That would be the worst outcome not just for public health but for the economy and our country as a whole”.
However, there is now constant questioning to the government to give more of a road map to the relaxation of the lockdown.
Dominic Raab was adamant he would not budge on that saying it would be irresponsible to do so.
However, huge media pressure will now undoubtedly build up to restart the economy in some ways and the government will not find it easy to keep their plans under wraps.
On a day when another 861 deaths were reported in the UK bringing the total coronavirus deaths to 13 729,I think that we could well find the new three weeks lockdown extension is increased.
Are those five, clear criteria for relaxation realistically going to be met by May 7?
We all hope so.
And the message from Dominic Raab was: ”Our message to the British public is there is a light at the end of the tunnel”.