COVID restrictions could last until SUMMER as 70 Tory MPs have piled on pressure to Boris Johnson demanding he publish a timetable for easing the lockdown in March.
Environment Secretary George Eustice warned this morning life could only start to return to normal by “late spring or early summer”.
A group of 70 Tory MPs have demanded Boris Johnson plan to end lockdown in MarchCredit: AFP or licensors
George Eustice warned lockdown could continue until “early summer”Credit: refer to caption.
Speaking this morning, Mr Eustice said “there is a light at the end of the tunnel” after the hopeful news 5 million doses of the vaccine had been given to Brits.
He told Sky News: “Once we get all those vulnerable cohorts vaccinated and start to move down the age ranges in late Spring, early summer, I really think it will be possible to return to life much close to normal.”
But people would still have to follow some restrictions, Mr Eustice warned, saying: “It won’t be entirely normal, initially, but we will be able to come out of lockdown and start living life again in the way we wanted it.”
Yesterday, Boris Johnson sparked fears coronavirus restrictions could continue for months to come after he could not rule out social distancing measures being lifted by summer.
When he was asked if the country was facing “looking at summer rather than spring” for an easing of lockdown rules, the PM said: “I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of some of the restrictions.”
Mr Johnson warned the new super-contagious variant “does spread very fast”, saying “it unquestionably will be a very tough few weeks ahead.”
But the 70 Tory MPs in the Coronavirus Recovery Group have demanded Mr Johnson start laying out plans to ease the lockdown in March.
Chair of the CRG Mark Harper has told the PM people and businesses need “hope for the future” and lockdown should start to be unravelled once the Government hits its target of vaccinating the 13 million most vulnerable Brits.
Mr Harper said: “People must see light at the end of the tunnel and feel hope for the future and businesses need to be able to plan our recovery.”
“Once the top four risk groups have been vaccinated and fully protected by March 8 – assuming the Government hits the February 15 deadline – the Government must start easing the restrictions.”
Mr Harper said it was vital “we control (Covid) effectively” but cautioned the PM against further lockdowns
“This cycle of lockdowns and restrictions cause immense damage too – to people’s health, livelihoods and businesses,” he said.
Boris Johnson could not rule out restrictions stretching into summerCredit: AFP or licensors
Priti Patel introduced tougher fines for people going to house partiesCredit: Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Last night, Priti Patel brought in even tougher fines for people who attend house parties during the lockdown, meaning anyone who goes to a gathering of 15 people or more could be fined £800.
And this morning, Mr Eustice refused to rule out even tougher measures that could see the UK’s borders closed, in a bid to stop new variants of the virus reaching British shores.
Mr Eustice insisted he did not want to see the borders being closed, but refused to rule anything out.
“I’d like to see us get past this pandemic get the vaccine rolled out and start opening things again instead of closing things,” he told the BBC.
“We can’t rule anything out but for now the restrictions we have in place for that requirement for quarantine and the requirement for a pre-travel test, we think that is sufficient and the right and appropriate measure for now.”
The Environment Secretary also refused to rule out a plan being drawn up by Department of Health officials to give people who test positive for Coronavirus £500 to cover the costs of self-isolation.
He said: “We do need people if they’ve been asked to self-isolate to self-isolate and obviously we always review the reasons why they might not.
“No decisions have been made on this but this is a dynamic fast-moving situation with the pandemic but we’re always keeping multiple policies under review.”