The Government will now only review the coronavirus lockdown measures every four weeks, after Matt Hancock snuck through changes yesterday.

The Health Secretary used a written ministerial statement to outline how the maximum review period will now change from 21 days to 28 days.

Coronavirus restrictions, first brought in on March 23, had previously been looked at by ministers on a rolling three week basis, when they would either extend the rules or make changes – though they were able to make changes in between. Now they want more time to make decisions on next steps, as the UK emerges from lockdown.

In the statement released yesterday afternoon, Mr Hancock wrote: ‘This will allow decisions to align more closely with the period of time necessary to assess the impact of previous changes on key data feeds, including the R (infection) rate. The Government will also keep all the measures under continual review and will account to Parliament on an ongoing basis.’

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It suggests that since the last extension was made on May 28, the latest rules are likely to stay in place until June 26. 

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The move was not announced in the House of Commons and only posted online, with hard copies available in Parliament.

It comes after an easing of current regulations change on Monday, which meant that Brits are allowed to meet outside in groups of six but also meant sex between two people in different households is officially illegal.  

New measures allowing shops to reopen come into force on Monday, June 15.

Many of the rules only apply to England, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’s devolved government taking different steps.

But there are concerns that England’s lockdown may be being lifted to quickly, amid fears of a second wave, particularly after ‘shielders’ were told they could go outside after weeks at home trying to avoid catching Covid-19.  

Since the latest easing, pictures have shown thousands of people outside, often gathered close together at beaches or parks. 

The statement, which clarified some of the new rules for England, went on: ‘The changes generally follow the principle that outdoor environments, whilst not zero-risk, have a lower risk of transmission than indoor.

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‘Additionally, to ensure that we are making future decisions about the lockdown at the right time, the maximum review period will change from 21 days to 28 days.’

Mr Hancock added: ‘These remain strict measures, but they are measures that we must take in order to protect our NHS and to save lives.’

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