Boris Johnson to announce key lockdown changes as he returns to Downing Street

The Prime Minister returned to Downing Street on Sunday night to take full control of the coronavirus crisis. Mr Johnson will on Monday morning preside his first meeting of the coronavirus “war cabinet” since he was hospitalised over three weeks ago.

He will also resume his televised Number 10 press briefings.

Allies have suggested that he could “modify” features of the lockdown before the May 7 review.

One ally of Mr Johnson said: “May 7 is the day when the Government is legally obliged to review the lockdown measures but if Boris wants to change the restrictions earlier than that, or at least announce something before that, then he could go sooner.

“Talking about lifting the lockdown is using the wrong language, we need to be talking about modifying the lockdown.

“There is definitely a sense that we could be doing more than we are at the moment in terms of people being to work, especially if they are working outdoors.”

The news comes as the number of coronavirus deaths in hospitals dropped to 413 on Sunday.

Sunday’s death toll is the lowest figure this month and marks a 58 percent reduction on the peak.

Birmingham Nightingale Hospital reported it has not treated a single patient, as hospitals report a record number of empty beds.

Mr Johnson is understood to have examined along with ministers the possibility of “modifying” the lockdown rather than lifting it.

This suggests preventive measures will stay in place even if workers and students return to their activities.

The Prime Minister will receive advice from Government experts later this week so that he can outline a “roadmap” to give the public a transparent message on how he will proceed going forward.

Last week Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said the infection rate was now low enough to give “room for manoeuvre” in easing some restrictions.

One Conservative source said: “There is a desire to open up the economy. There is a broad acceptance that we can’t just close everything down until a vaccine is found.”

Dominic Raab, who has been deputising for the Prime Minister in his absence, on Sunday said the public would have to adapt to a “new normal” as he discussed the next “transitional” stage in the lockdown.

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He said there would be no “binary” change between life pre-lockdown and after lockdown.

He added that the coronavirus pandemic was still at a “delicate and dangerous” stage.

He said: “We need to make sure that the next steps are sure-footed, which is why we are proceeding very cautiously and we are sticking to the scientific advice.”

Mr Raab said Mr Johnson’s return “will give a boost to the Government and a boost to the country”.

A Downing Street source said: “The PM fills the building and it has not been the same without him.”

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, on Sunday became the first Government minister to use a televised Downing Street press conference to talk about potential modifications to the lockdown.

Of the possibility of health checks for air passengers or quarantine for those entering the UK, he said: “As we move to a new phase at some point in the future…international travel could become a more significant part of the risk to manage.

“Should there be medical advice at some point in the future, as we move to new stages, that this is an area that should be looked at and considered, then obviously that is the time to do that.”

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