Boris Johnson is expected to outline full details of how the UK will exit lockdown on Sunday – three days after the government must review the current restrictions, Sky News has learned.
Businesses and trade unions spent the weekend in consultation with ministers, looking to establish a strategy for reopening selected areas of the economy.
Ministers have been under pressure to explain their exit strategy but have so far resisted the calls – warning that to do so risks undermining the message to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus.
On Sunday, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said some social distancing measures would remain in place until a vaccine has been developed but added that the government would seek to restore people’s lives to “as close to normal as possible”.
Later today, the prime minister will join fellow world leaders in a virtual summit aimed at galvanising global efforts to find a vaccine for COVID-19.
Boris Johnson will urge the international community to “pull together” in what he describes as “the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes”.
The online pledging conference, which will be attended by the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Saudi Arabia, and representatives of the EU, aims to secure more than £6bn in funding to support the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This will be used to support the development of treatments, tests and ultimately the mass production of a vaccine if one can be found.
The UK has pledged to give £388m in aid funding for research into tests, treatments and vaccines – part of a £744m commitment to help end the pandemic and support the global economy.
Mr Johnson is expected to say: “To win this battle, we must work together to build an impregnable shield around all our people and that can only be achieved by developing and mass producing a vaccine.
“The more we pull together and share our expertise, the faster our scientists will succeed.
“The race to discover the vaccine to defeat this virus is not a competition between countries but the most urgent shared endeavour of our lifetimes.
“It’s humanity against the virus – we are in this together and together we will prevail.”
However, the absence of both China and the US from the virtual summit is likely to raise concerns that competition between states to secure a vaccine could hinder global efforts.
Writing in the Independent on Sunday, the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Norway said the “global challenge” required “bringing together the world’s best – and most prepared – minds to find the vaccines, treatments and therapies we need to make our world healthy again”.
They also said there should be a focus on “strengthening” health systems “with particular attention to Africa”.
“This is our generation’s duty and we know we can make this happen”, they added.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also revealed the government is trying to “source as many masks as possible” in case official advice changes to encourage the public to wear them.
People could wear the non-medical face coverings, or other types pf Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), to give them confidence to go back to work when restrictions are eased, he told Sky News’ Kay [email protected]
Mr Wallce also suggested where people cannot remain two metres apart that halving that distance would “still keep people away from being infected” but for a “much lesser time”.
It comes as Mr Johnson has revealed that he feared he would not live to see his baby son Wilfred, who was born while he was suffering from COVID-19 in intensive care last month.
“I won’t hide it from you, I was thinking about that, yes,” he told The Sun.
“I owe my life to our doctors and nurses and the healthcare workers,” he added. “They pulled my chestnuts out of the fire, no question.”
Meanwhile, a smartphone app to trace the spread of coronavirus will be trialled on the Isle of Wight this week before being rolled out more widely later this month.
Mr Shapps told Sky News the NHSX contact tracing app requires 50-60% of people to use for it to be successful.
A total of 28,446 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Saturday.
This week Kay Burley will be hosting a live Q&A with Health Secretary Matt Hancock. You can put your questions to Mr Hancock about the coronavirus and its impact on your life live on Sky News.
Email us your questions – or you can record a video clip of your question on your phone – and send it to [email protected]