Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Monday that “important progress” had been made in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic but that the country is not yet “out of the woods”.
Raab’s press conference from Downing Street came after the Department for Health and Social Care announced that a further 38 people had succumbed to the virus over the previous 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll to 41,736.
The number of confirmed infections has meanwhile risen by 1,056 to 296,857.
The Foreign Secretary said that week-on-week data showed that “important progress” was being made as 155 fewer deaths and 109 fewer daily cases were recorded in the week ending June 12 than in the one ending on June 5.
He stressed however that “we can’t just pretend that coronavirus has gone away or we’ve eliminated the virus. And we know from the science and also from what we’re seeing from international experience, that there is a risk of a second spike if we’re not very careful”.
He argued that the government is taking “modest and careful steps” and that it is “very carefully monitoring the impact they have on the virus”.
All non-essential shops were on Monday allowed to reopen across Britain for the first time since March 23 although the social distancing rule on keeping two-metre apart still applies.
Raab added that the distance may be brought down depending on scientific advice and the number of incidence of the disease.
A further easing of restrictions, including the potential reopening of the bars, pubs and restaurants, is to take place on July 4 “at the earliest”, Raab also said, adding that it has “got to be done in a safe and responsible way”.
Raab also defended the government’s announcement of a new review into racial inequality, despite multiple reviews having already issued over 200 recommendations since 2017, arguing that the new commission will “translate some of the diagnosis of the challenges that we got with actionable policies”.