Hospitality businesses could remain closed for yet more months, suggest reports (Picture: PA)
Pubs and restaurants could remain closed for another four months as No 10 considers extending England’s nationwide lockdown, according to reports.
The prime minister plunged the nation into its third lockdown earlier this week and said the strict ‘stay at home’ message would stay in place until mid-February – but did not give a confirmed deadline.
Downing Street is now reportedly considering keeping the lockdown in place until late March, according to The Sunday Times, with pubs and restaurants forced to stay shut for even longer.
A source told the paper: ‘The May Day bank holiday is more likely the moment you see pubs reopening.’
The prime minister could extend lockdown for at least another month (Picture: PA)
Cabinet minister Michael Gove admitted this week that restrictions could remain in place until the end of March and the government cannot be certain on an end date.
Boris Johnson told the nation as he set out the latest Covid-19 restrictions that vaccines would be the UK’s way out of the pandemic and that the ‘end is in sight’.
Mr Gove said the mid-February review point will be focused primarily on the progression of the vaccine rollout rather than lifting the restrictions that were imposed on Monday evening.
The Duchy of Lancaster told Sky News: ‘It takes some time immediately after vaccination to get the benefit of full immunity.
‘We will keep these constantly under review but you are absolutely right, we can’t predict with certainty that we will be able to lift restrictions in the week commencing the 15-22′.
It comes as several mass vaccination sites are set to open tomorrow in Bristol, Surrey, London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham and Hertfordshire.
The government is aiming to vaccinate 14 million vulnerable people – including the over-80s, care home residents and health and care staff – by mid-February.
The vaccination sites will be joined later in the week by hundreds more GP-led and hospital services along with the first pharmacy-led pilot sites, taking the total to around 1,200, NHS England said.
But experts have warned Britain’s plan to lengthen the gap between coronavirus jabs, so more people can get their first dose, could lead to another mutant strain emerging.
Downing Street defended its plan to delay the second jab by 12 weeks, despite England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty admitting it could allow an ‘escaped mutant’ to develop.
Members of staff make notes before administering the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to members of the public at Hyde Leisure Centre near Manchester (Picture: AP)
Mr Whitty also said the NHS has more tough weeks ahead before the vaccines start to reduce the number of people being admitted to hospitals with Covid-19.
He cautioned the health service is facing its ‘most dangerous situation’ in living memory, as the number of patients with Covid in hospital is at a record high in England.
The official coronavirus death toll for the UK passed 80,000 yesterday and lab-confirmed cases hit more than three million.
Today, the UK recorded a further 563 deaths and 54,940 more cases. However, figures tend to be lower at the weekend due to a lag in reporting.
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