London, May 10 (IANS) UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a 2 billion-pound ($2.5 billion) package to encourage cycling and walking in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The move on Saturday came as the government strives to double cycling and increase walking by 2025 with a national cycling plan being expected to be published in June, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Swift emergency plans” to be put in place include increasing bike lanes, wider pavements for pedestrians and cycle and bus-only streets, Shapps told reporters at the Downing Street press briefing.
Public transport will remain a fraction of pre-pandemic capacity for some time, he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to address the nation on Sunday night to announce a roadmap to ease the current lockdown measures.
During the briefing, Shapps urged Britons to stick to social distancing measures during the sunny weekend.
“Do not throw away the great work of seven weeks of respecting the rules and guidelines because it happens to be sunny this bank holiday weekend,” Shapps said.
The secretary warned that it will take some time for things to get back to normal.
“Moving beyond COVID will be a gradual process, not a single leap to freedom, so when we do emerge the world will seem quite different,” Shapps said.
The development comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK has increased to 216,525, with 31,662 deaths.
The country currently accounts for the highest number of deaths in Europe.