Economy World

How do the UK nations differ over easing lockdown?

The Government has spoken of a “four-nations approach” to tackling the coronavirus crisis – where each UK country would ideally follow the same path and timings back to post-lockdown normality.

But there have been signs of tensions between Downing Street and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – with warnings over “mixed messages” to the public.

It follows reports Prime Minister Boris Johnson could allow sunbathing and picnics to be permitted in England from as early as Monday.

This could mean the four nations will find themselves moving at different speeds as they move towards ending the full lockdown which was imposed on March 23, politicians have said.

Here is a look at what steps each country is taking so far.

Mark Drakeford has eased some restrictions around exercising while extending the lockdown in Wales.
Mark Drakeford has eased some restrictions around exercising while extending the lockdown in Wales. 
  • Wales

Lockdown restrictions in Wales were extended for a further three weeks on Friday, although three “small adjustments” are due to take effect on Monday.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said people would now be allowed to exercise more than once per day and garden centres could reopen as long as social distancing rules were in force.

He also proposed changing regulations to allow local authorities to begin planning how to safely reopen libraries and municipal recycling centres.

Northern Ireland extended the current restrictions for another three weeks on Thursday.

But there may be some “nuanced” changes to the measures in the days ahead, First Minister Arlene Foster said, including on rules around open-air exercise.

She added it was important to “move together as a bloc” with the rest of the UK to send a clear and simple message to the population.

First Minister Arlene Foster at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast
First Minister Arlene Foster at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast.
  • England

The PM has said he will act with “maximum caution” and announce only a “very limited” easing of rules when he sets out his road map for the way forward during an address to the nation on Sunday evening.

Officials will scrutinise the latest data on the virus spread and ministers are expected to convene over the weekend before details are finalised.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warned if there was “any indication that things are starting to get out of control” the Government “won’t hesitate to step back” and reimpose certain bans on interactions.

It comes after newspaper reports that pub gardens and cafes with outdoor space could be allowed to reopen, with restrictions on sunbathing and playing outdoor sports also relaxed.

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