SIR Keir Starmer has said that the British public need to see “the light at the end of the tunnel” over the current UK restrictions on movement.
The newly-elected Labour leader warned that the “silent pressures” on households “cannot be underestimated,” and said schools and nurseries should reopen before other businesses to ensure children from more deprived households don’t fall behind those that have more support to learn at home.
Government ministers are expected to make a formal decision to extend the lockdown tomorrow, after receiving new scientific advice yesterday.
Sir Keir called on the government to be open about its criteria for loosening restrictions and publish a plan within a week in order to maintain public trust and confidence.
He argued plans were essential to make sure the resources were in place to provide community-level testing, with the UK currently testing fewer than 20,000 people per day.
In a round of morning TV interviews, Sir Keir said it was “obvious that the lockdown is going to continue and we are going to support the government in that.
“But I do think the question therefore is what comes next?
“People are trusting the government… but they do need to see light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’m not asking the government for timings, of course, I understand why they can’t give us timings. But we do need the trust of the public as we go forward.”
A government source said talk of an exit strategy before the UK has reached the peak “risks confusing the critical message that people need to stay at home in order to protect our NHS and save lives.”
In a letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson while the Prime Minister recovers from coronavirus, Sir Keir said: “The question for Thursday therefore is no longer about whether the lockdown should be extended, but about what the government’s position is on how and when it can be eased in due course and on what criteria that decision will be taken.”
“Ministers have argued that now is not the time to talk about this. I profoundly disagree. Overcoming this crisis requires taking the British public with you.”