Week Ahead: Boris Johnson to reveal lockdown easing ‘menu’ as VE Day remembered

Boris Johnson will set out plans for the UK’s ‘new normal’ after the initial lockdown, while VE Day’s 75th anniversary is being marked. Chris Burn looks at the week ahead.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire

‘MAP’ FOR LOCKDOWN EASING

With the deadline for reviewing the UK’s current lockdown restrictions falling on Thursday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to set out a “road map” for easing coronavirus restrictions this week.

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At a press conference last Thursday, Mr Johnson said it will involve a “menu of options”, with the dates and times driven by the current state of the outbreak in the UK, he added.

Ministers have faced continued questioning over the UK’s plan for lifting its coronavirus lockdown, as European countries begin to ease their own restrictions.

Italy and Spain are among those planning small steps to relax measures, while the Scottish and Welsh governments have set out different visions of how the current restrictions could be lifted when the outbreak is under control.

Restrictions on school openings are expected to be among the first things to be eased.

Some non-essential businesses may be allowed to open, such as garden centres and car showrooms, provided social distancing could be maintained.

Wearing face masks could soon be a commonplace part of going outdoors, while there are talks about whether sporting events such as the Premier League could eventually be allowed to take place behind closed doors.

VE DAY ANNIVERSARY

The 75th anniversary of VE Day this Friday had been expected to be one of the most memorable events of 2020, with the Government even moving the May Bank Holiday date to allow celebrations to take place.

But social distancing requirements have meant the cancellation of a veterans’ procession, street parties, the creation of Victory Park (featuring examples of Second World War life, in London’s St James’ Park), and broadcasts from public spaces of Sir Winston Churchill’s famous victory speech. However, the Queen will lead the nation in marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day with an address to the country – her second televised message during the coronavirus outbreak.

The message will form part of a series of events on May 8 commemorating the sacrifices of the Second World War generation, whose qualities of stoicism and bravery have been held up as characteristics to emulate during the Covid-19 pandemic.

After the broadcast, the public will be invited to join a moment of celebration and thanksgiving by taking part in a rendition of Dame Vera Lynn’s wartime anthem We’ll Meet Again, during a BBC One programme of music and memories.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the greatest generation that served in combat and on the 
home front during the Second World War. Whilst we now need to celebrate VE 75 in our homes and on our doorsteps, rather than in parades and street parties, I know the nation will come together to mark this historic occasion.”

CAR SALES STALL

On Tuesday, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders will release the latest monthly figures for new car registrations which are expected to make bleak reading for the automobile trade.

The last figures for March saw new registrations fall by 44 per cent, a steeper drop than seen during the financial crisis.

The reduction in sales is nearly certain to have been even more pronounced last month.

ARCHIE TURNS ONE

The lives of his parents have been extremely eventful during his first 12 months and on Wednesday, Harry and Meghan’s son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor turns one.

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