The foreign secretary has defended the government easing of lockdown measures in England from Monday, despite the country’s Covid-19 alert system indicating high levels of transmission.
Dominic Raab said England is “transitioning” from level four, when there should be enforced social distancing measures, to level three, when they can start to be relaxed.
He said the approach is “cautious”.
Some scientists advising ministers have voiced concerns about easing the rules.
Mr Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the government had “taken evidence from scientists” and has met the five tests it said were needed to relax restrictions.
“Because we have made that progress, steadily, slowly, surely, week in, week out, we can very gradually, very carefully, take the steps that we are taking tomorrow,” he said.
He did not specify when England would move to level three, saying this would be “decided independently by experts”.
The government would be able to implement “targeted” measures in areas that saw an “uptick” in cases, he added.
Prof Peter Openshaw, who is part of a body that advises the government on respiratory viruses, told the programme that ministers must proceed with “great, great care”.
Asked whether the government is proceeding too quickly, he said there is “a pretty unanimous message now that we need to take this slowly and go step by step”.
“We need to evaluate the effect of each step before we move to the next one,” he said.
Some scientific advisers to the government have said the decision to ease measures is premature, describing it as a “political decision” and stressing that the NHS test and trace system should be “fully working” first.
Estimates by the Office for National Statistics suggest there are currently 8,000 new confirmed cases of coronavirus per day in England alone.
From Monday, schools will reopen and up to six people can meet in England.
Vulnerable people in England and Wales who have been asked to stay home since lockdown began will also be able to go outdoors again.
School governors have asked ministers to drop plans for all primary pupils in England to return before the summer holidays, saying the ambition piles pressure on schools “when actually it wouldn’t be safe”.