Boris Johnson has suggested the coronavirus lockdown will start to be lifted on Monday.
Johnson told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday: “We want if we possibly can to get going with some of these measures on Monday.”
Johnson is set to give an address to the nation on Sunday, in which he will set out a plan of how the restrictions will be eased.
Referring to this, he said: “I think it will be a good thing if people have an idea of what is coming the following day, that’s why I think a Sunday, the weekend, is the best time to do it.”
Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice
Johnson first imposed the draconian lockdown on 23 March, with a review due on Thursday.
At PMQs, Johnson also warned it would be an “economic disaster” to relax the lockdown in a way which triggered a second spike in COVID-19 cases.
He said: “It’d be an economic disaster for this country if we were to pursue a relaxation of these measures now in such a way as to trigger a second spike.”
Downing Street later said that not all social distancing measures will be lifted at the same time.
Asked if the government was planning on taking a phased approach, the PM’s official spokesman said: “I think the language we’ve used so far is: everything is not going to be able to return to normal all at once.
“It is not going to be a case of flicking a switch and people will have to prepare for a different type of normal.
“We will obviously want to ensure that any easements we do make are carefully monitored, and that we aren’t doing things which increase the rate of infection and pushing that ‘R’ number beyond one.”
Meanwhile, the Met Police said it will not take action against Prof Neil Ferguson following his breach of the lockdown rules.
Prof Ferguson, one of the government’s key scientific advisers who was instrumental in Johnson’s decision to impose the lockdown, resigned from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) on Tuesday after ignoring the restrictions.
The Daily Telegraph reported Prof Ferguson broke the rules to allow his “married lover” Antonia Staats into his London home “on at least two occasions”.
Health secretary Matt Hancock had said it would a matter for police to decide whether to take action against him.
However, the Met later said Prof Ferguson had accepted responsibility and therefore it would not be taking any action – despite his “plainly disappointing” actions.