THE front page of The Northern Echo (May 12) carries a call from business leaders for more clarity. A gradual exit from lockdown is desirable but the announcement by the Prime Minister was premature, at a time when we still have significant more new cases and deaths than when the lockdown was introduced.

Furthermore, we are not yet ready. Workers were asked to go back at a time when guidelines for safe working practices had not been released and without the time required for enacting them. There is a risk that not all employers will offer similar or adequate levels of protection.

Another prerequisite should have been the introduction of community testing for anybody with symptoms. We need to be able to identify all cases and manage any clusters in workplaces, before they become large outbreaks. Arbitrary testing targets (100,000 or twice that) are pointless. What we need is a testing strategy and building a testing capacity that meets the strategy’s requirements.

Dr. Giuseppe Enrico Bignardi, Durham.