DEFIANT Boris Johnson today insisted lockdown will NOT be eased any earlier than his roadmap plans despite demands from MPs and other sectors to speed it up.
The PM vowed that his timetable was “sensible” and cautious but also irreversible, and the plan provided some certainty for everyone.
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The PM has repeatedly slapped down scientists and MPs demanding he go faster.
Steve Baker MP said after the roadmap was unveiled: “Today’s pace of change will be a hammer blow to aviation, pubs, restaurants, hotels, gyms & pools, the arts and entertainment. Once again, it seems to be modelling not data driving decisions.”
Former chief whip Mark Harper had said that the Government was understating the huge success of the rollout.
The Forest of Dean MP said: “The biggest flaw is they assume a very low uptake of the vaccine.”
And even Professor Neil Ferguson, who called for the lockdown approach in the first place, suggested it may be possible.
Asked about “wiggle room” on current plans to lift lockdown if the data suggests infections and hospital admissions are falling fast as the vaccines are rolled out, the Prime Minister said on a visit to the North West today: “I think it’s very important to have a timetable that is sensible, that is cautious, but one that is also irreversible.
“And that’s the virtue of the timetable we have set out. Everybody knows the dates – March 8, kids back in school, April 12, shops reopen, May 17 hospitality reopens, June 21, we hope, if all things go according to plan, a general reopening.
“And I think those are a series of dates, towards which people can work and I think that the people of this country would rather trade some haste for some certainty and that’s why we’ve done it in the way that we have and we will still continue to stick to that plan.
“We’re sticking to our plan.”
He warned that cases were still high and the number of people in hospital too.
He went on: “So we think that the road map that we’ve set out is a good and balanced one for us to get on a journey that is cautious, but as I say irreversible as well.”
The lockdown roadmap includes:
- Schools to return from March 8 for all pupils, and two people from different households can meet outside
- But kids will have to wear masks in classrooms at first
- From March 29 the rule of six returns outdoors and outdoor sport will resume with golf and tennis courts back open
- April 12 will see shops reopen for customers again, with hairdressers and barbers back – along with nail salons
- Brits will be able to go on a staycation with their family as the stay local rules will be lifted from the end of April
- From May, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to have indoor service again – with the rule of six or two households in place
- Gyms will then be allowed to reopen and other indoor activities like cinemas and bingo halls
- From May two households will finally be able to mix indoors – and stay overnight
- After June it’s hoped that all other restrictions on where people can go are hoped to be lifted
- Nightclubs and theatres can finally reopen – likely with rapid testing schemes
MPs will get a vote on the new rules – before March 29 – where grumpy MPs are likely to urge him to go even further.
The PM had faced pressure to act even faster from his backbenchers, who want all rules to be ditched by the end of April, but he’s said it won’t be safe to do so.
The plan will come as part of three stages – which can’t be pulled forward. Those are the dates which will be the earliest ones possible.
If one date is dragged back, they will all be dragged back.
Shielding Brits have been told to stay home as much as they can until the end of March.