Plan To Lift Lockdown Will Be Revealed In Week Beginning February 22

Boris Johnson tells the nation to "hold our nerve in the endgame of the battle" against Covid.

Boris Johnson has said he will reveal his plan to lift England’s third coronavirus lockdown in the week beginning February 22.

The prime minister said he would be in a position to review the success of the restrictions and the vaccination programme in the week beginning February 15, when the most vulnerable people should have been offered their first jab.

The following week he will set out his roadmap for taking the country out of lockdown.

“That plan will of course depend on the continued success of our vaccination programme, the capacity of the NHS and on deaths falling at the pace we would expect as more people are inoculated,” he told the Commons.

It came as Johnson said the government was targeting the week beginning March 8 for the reopening of schools, three weeks after the jab has been offered to the most vulnerable and they have had time to build immunity.

Johnson suggested one of the key factors would also be an analysis of how effective vaccines are at stopping people passing on the virus.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has identified this as key in determining when and how restrictions can be lifted.

The PM said: “I know the measures I am setting out today will be deeply frustrating to many honourable friends and colleagues, and disappointing for all of us.

“But the way forward has been clear ever since the vaccines arrived and as we inoculate more people hour by hour, this is the time to hold our nerve in the end game of the battle against the virus.

“Our goal now must be to buy the extra weeks we need to immunise the most vulnerable and get this virus under control so that together we can defeat this most wretched disease, reclaim our lives once and for all.”

Johnson’s statement came with infections and hospitalisations remaining high, while the UK’s Covid death toll surpassed 100,000 on Tuesday.

An extra 260,307 vaccine doses were administered on Tuesday, taking the total to 6,665,861 since December 8.

Of this number, 6,221,850 were first doses of the vaccine, a rise of 259,306 on the previous day’s figures, while 444,011 were second doses, an increase of 1,001.

Johnson meanwhile rejected suggestions that people should be paid any lost salary if they are forced to self-isolate in a bid to bring down infections, suggesting people should quarantine for the good of the country.

Jeremy Hunt, Tory chair of the Commons health committee, highlighted claims that 40% of people asked to isolate by the Test and Trace service do not do so fully.

He went on: “Because this is such a big threat to our containment strategy for the virus, I wonder if the prime minister could say what he thinks we need to do to deal with this and in particular, whether it is now time to consider making a blanket offer to those asked to self-isolate that we will make good any salary that they lose.

“Because, in the end, that may be cheaper than having to extend furlough if the case rate remains high.”

Johnson replied: “I very much respect [Hunt’s] suggestion and I understand the logic of what he is saying but I believe that the people of this country should be isolating, self-isolating, in the way that [Sir Keir Starmer] is rightly doing, on the basis that it is the right thing for themselves, for their families and for the country.

“They do get support where needed of £500 and there are very considerable fines for failing to do it.”


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