Coronavirus alert level should finally move down from Level 4 to Level 3, say UK’s chief medical officers

Health secretary Matt Hancock says update shows "the government's plan is working"

England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty. Photo: PA Video/PA Wire/PA Images

By Alain Tolhurst

19 Jun 2020

The official coronavirus alert level should finally move down from level four to level three, according to the UK’s chief medical officers.

Health secretary Matt Hancock hailed the move as a "big moment" for the nation which showed the "government's plan is working”.

The prime minister introduced the five-step system in May, which is similar to the one used to establish the terrorist threat, and created the new the Joint Biosecurity Centre to administer it.


The highest figure is applicable when health services are at risk of being overwhelmed, to the lowest meaning Covid-19 is no longer present in the country.

Boris Johnson had initially claimed the level was “coming down” when he appeared in front of the Commons liaison committee in late May.

But, no official announcement came for several weeks after the chief medical officers refused to sign off on the change due to the stubbornly high infection rate.

Now, almost a month later, they have recommended it move down a notch due to the “steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations”.

The change could now clear the way for further easing of the lockdown and potentially allow for the two-metre rule on social distancing be halved, something the hospitality industry has been calling for.

A statement from the four scientists said: “The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended that the Covid-19 alert level should move from level four (A Covid-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially) to level three (a Covid-19 epidemic is in general circulation).

“The CMOs for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and agree with this recommendation to move to Level 3 across the UK.

“There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues.”

The four CMOs added: “It does not mean that the pandemic is over. The virus is still in general circulation, and localised outbreaks are likely to occur.

“We have made progress against the virus thanks to the efforts of the public and we need the public to continue to follow the guidelines carefully to ensure this progress continues.”

In response to the news, Hancock said: "The UK moving to a lower alert level is a big moment for the country, and a real testament to the British people's determination to beat this virus.

"The government's plan is working. Infection rates are rapidly falling, we have protected the NHS and, thanks to the hard work of millions in our health and social care services, we are getting the country back on her feet."

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