A Conservative MP has said the UK’s coronavirus lockdown must not last for three months because “money does not grow on trees”.
Sir Robert Syms, the MP for Poole, said a longer lockdown will “undermine” the UK’s ability to fund the NHS.
Sir Robert made the claim following a report by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) saying the economy could shrink by 35% amid the coronavirus crisis, with unemployment rising by two million to about 10% of the working population.
The report assumes the UK’s lockdown will last for three months. It has currently been in place for just over three weeks.
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In an exchange on Twitter, the Tory MP of 23 years said:
The government, which is enforcing its draconian lockdown under the mantra of “stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives”, has suggested it could be another month before the restrictions are relaxed.
It comes as a number of European countries moved to lift aspects of their lockdowns.
On Tuesday, Austria allowed shops less than 400 square metres, as well as DIY stores and garden centres, to open.
Germany is set to announce a gradual easing of its lockdown measures on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Poland will start allowing shops to reopen on Sunday.
In Spain, workers from the manufacturing and construction industries were allowed to return to work on Monday, while small shops have also reopened in Italy.
Spain and Italy are two of the worst-hit countries in the world in terms of coronavirus deaths.
Countries such as South Korea, meanwhile, have managed to restrict the spread of COVID-19 without any lockdown measures.
South Korea is held as a world-leading example for its handling of the outbreak, having initially been the second worst affected country behind China.
It has managed to restrict the spread of coronavirus – and keep its shops and businesses open – thanks to its extensive testing and contact tracing, a strategy which the UK government did not pursue at the beginning of the outbreak.
South Koreans can also use a mobile phone app which lets people know when an infected person is approaching their vicinity.
On Tuesday, South Korea recorded just 27 new COVID-19 cases, while there have only been 222 deaths.