The Government looks set to extend the UK lockdown by three weeks as cabinet ministers meet later this afternoon.
Ministers could extend the social distancing rules imposed by Boris Johnson last month as it appears the coronavirus pandemic is reaching its peak, the Press Association reports.
Downing Street has said the three-week review of the lockdown regulations will go ahead as planned in line with the coronavirus legislation.
However, ministers and officials have repeatedly made clear that there is no prospect of any imminent relaxation.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the party will back an extension, but has called on ministers to set out an “exit strategy” explaining how they will eventually be lifted.
Speaking at the daily No 10 press conference on Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there could be no “let up” in the efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
“We cannot let go of the hard work that has been done so far. This shared sacrifice is starting to work but we will not lift these measures until it is safe to do so,” he said.
It is expected that ministers will be briefed on the latest situation by the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will then lead a meeting of the Cobra civil contingencies committee when it is expected that the extension of the lockdown will be formally approved.
The leaders of the devolved administrations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will take part by video link.
However, even before the meeting, the Stormont executive announced social distancing rules would continue in Northern Ireland at least until May.
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