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Boris Johnson refuses to budge on lockdown exit plan

Boris Johnson has refused to buckle under pressure for a quicker easing of lockdown.

Boris Johnson has refused to buckle under pressure for a quicker easing of lockdown, even though there has been a strong decline in infections, with a minister declaring that it will take “months” to return to normal.

Boris Johnson sticking to plan

Helen Whately, the care minister, stated there would be a “step-by-step” approach to easing restrictions when the Prime Minister publishes his Roadmap to Recovery on Monday.

Downing Street is expecting key data tomorrow on to what extent vaccines can decrease transmission rates. This will form the basis of decisions on how long it will be before pubs and restaurants can reopen.

Helen Whately said the steps would take place “in the weeks and months ahead” with the planned reopening of schools in England on March 8 marking the start of the easing. She said: “So to me, that is a really important thing — for us to be step-by-step and doing this cautiously because we want this to be the last ever national lockdown. First, to be getting children back to school, but in due course opening up hospitality and getting back to life more like normal.” A senior No 10 source confirmed that the care minister’s gradual approach mirrors the Government’s thinking, despite calls from certain Conservative backbenchers and media outlets for the Prime Minister to release the brakes on the economy.

During an interview with Sky News, she said: “I think the important thing is that in the weeks and months ahead, we take the steps to come out of lockdown, to move on from the restrictions that we’ve had to have over the last few months. We are in a much, much better place now. We’ve had nearly 16 million people vaccinated. That’s a huge deal. We have an enormous testing capacity as well. We’ve learned a huge amount about the virus. We’ve got better treatments for it as well. So I see us being in a much better place as we come through this.”

Ms Whately suggested that “postcode lockdowns” will be introduced to prevent isolated outbreaks from spreading in future. She declared that ministers had “learned during the summer about how to manage localised outbreaks.”

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