Cabinet 'split over decision to extend lockdown for three or six weeks'

Boris Johnson’s cabinet is reportedly torn over when to end the UK’s lockdown – with some ministers arguing that is should continue for another six weeks.

The current social-distancing restrictions were put in place for a period of three weeks on March 23, with the last day due tomorrow. However, the government has already stated that these measures will continue past the deadline. So-far 9,875 people have died from Covid-19 in the UK.

A Cabinet source has now revealed that ministers are split between wanting to save lives and wanting to protect the economy, as some fear current action to keep the public safe could create bigger problems for the UK in the future.

According to The Sun, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Priti Patel want the current lockdown to be extended by three weeks, while Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Michael Gove say the UK needs longer.

They are reportedly pushing for a six-week extension, meaning the measures will be lifted on May 25.

The Cabinet source said: ‘It’s right and proper that we took action. But we must phase it out at the earliest opportunity.

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‘It could lead to many more deaths than the virus itself as the economy tanks, people lose jobs and families get poorer and sicker. We need a game plan for ending this.’

The Prime Minister is currently recovering from coronavirus, after he was admitted to hospital last Sunday with ‘persistent symptoms’. He was then moved to intensive care on Monday evening, but returned to a general ward later in the week.

First Secretary of State Dominic Raab has since taken over leading the government, and will likely stay at the helm for a period of three weeks. The Cabinet source said there has been a ‘power vacuum’ without Johnson in charge.

Earlier today it was confirmed that MPs will resume sitting in the House of Commons from April 21, although through digital means. A spokesperson for Jacob Rees-Mogg said ‘technological solutions’ will be decided on this coming week.

Under current lockdown measures, members of the public are only able to leave their home for their jobs, if they are key workers, daily exercise, or to shop for necessary items such as food or medicine.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus previously warned that loosening restrictions ‘could lead to a deadly resurgence’ in coronavirus across the world.

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