MATT Hancock has been warned against moving the “goalposts” after he said he was “absolutely open” to delaying Freedom Day.
A decision is due this week on whether Covid restrictions will be lifted on June 21 amid reports it could be delayed to July 5 in an effort to make sure all those aged over 50 receive a second vaccine.
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Boris Johnson will examine the Covid stats this week to decide over lifting restrictions on June 21, the Health Secretary has revealed.
The Health Secretary said it was “too early” to determine whether the Government would lift all coronavirus restrictions later this month.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr he warned the Government is “absolutely open” to delaying 21 June and “the roadmap was set up in order to take these sort of changes into account”.
But the prospect of the date being moved back has been met with anger by Tory MPs, who warned any delay could cost jobs and more harm to people’s mental and physical health.
Sir Desmond Swayne accused ministers of “wasting the advantages afforded by the success of vaccinations”.
“The original mission statement was to save lives by protecting the NHS. We’ve done that. The more it moves the goalposts, the more people will be made redundant.”
It comes as:
- The Indian Covid strain is 40 per cent more transmissible than other Covid variants, Matt Hancock has warned
- A maritime loophole allowed 600 cruise ship workers from India to fly here and avoid compulsory hotel quarantine
- Boris will examine the Covid stats this week to decide over lifting restrictions on June 21
- Brits in their 20s will get their Covid jabs this week
- Twelve-year-olds are set to get the Covid vaccine from August under plans to tackle the Indian variant surge
Former Tory Cabinet minister David Jones said the health secretary has acknowledged that most people in hospital Covid have not been vaccinated.
“The answer is therefore to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible,” he said.
“It is not to delay the lifting of lockdown, with the attendant damage to people’s mental and physical wellbeing and to the economy.”
Senior Tory MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown pointed to “increasing frustration’ among his colleagues over the restrictions”.
“We’ve got to be really, really careful about getting panicked about every variant that comes along until we are absolutely sure there is one that is going to defeat the vaccine,” he said
The Health Secretary told Marr that the Indian variant – now officially known as the Delta variant – had made the decisions behind the June 21 unlocking “more difficult”.
He stressed the importance of people getting vaccinated to “break the link between the number of cases to the number of hospitalisations.”
The majority of people going into hospital have not been vaccinated and he called on the under 30s to also get the jab.
He confirmed the latest advice is that the so-called Delta mutation is 40 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant.
“That means that it is more difficult to manage this virus with the new Delta variant.
“But crucially, after two doses of vaccine we are confident that you get the same protection that you did with the old variant.
“So the good news is that the vaccine still works just as effectively.
“Everybody must go and get their second jab though because the first isn’t as effective on its own.”