The UK is “at a dangerous moment” and the easing of lockdown “has to go slowly” England’s deputy chief medical officer has said.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said the consensus among scientists was that the new measures were not expected to affect the rate of infection.
However, he cautioned the public to be “sensible and proportionate with the freedom we have wanted to give people”.
“Don’t tear the pants out of it,” he told the daily Downing Street briefing.
It comes as scientific advisers to the government warned of the risk of lifting the lockdown in England.
From Monday schools will reopen and up to six people can meet in England, with other nations also easing measures.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of Sage – the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies which advises the government – said it was a “political decision” to ease measures.
Fellow Sage member Sir Jeremy Farrar said the NHS test and trace system should be “fully working” before measures were introduced.
Another 215 people across the UK who tested positive for coronavirus have now died, taking the total death toll to 38,376.