Laura Kuenssberg says UK won't change lockdown schedule
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The BBC political editor said Boris Johnson does not want to pick a fight with the UK’s chief medics to try and get Britain out of lockdown faster. Laura Kuenssberg said the five-week spacing of lockdown easing was insisted on by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty. Speaking on BBC Politics Live, host Jo Coburn said: “Picking up on some of what they said, the coronavirus pandemic and the vaccine.
“It is to some extent an unknown quantity but there will be hopes no doubt in government that the pace of the vaccination will to some extent give them a bit of manoeuvrability when it comes to reaching those dates.”
Ms Kuenssberg said: “I think that the Government is very unlikely to move faster than the plan they’ve set out.
“The plan they’ve set out gives these five-week pauses between each stage to see how it was going.
“I understand that was insisted upon by Chris Whitty and Downing Street is in no mood to pick a fight with the Government medics and say, ‘could we go faster?'”
Boris Johnson has said spring and summer in England will usher in changes to make lives “incomparably better” as he set out a plan to fully ease the lockdown by June 21.
The Prime Minister defended his “cautious but also irreversible” approach to relaxing restrictions with a four-step plan on Monday, arguing he will not be “buccaneering” with people’s lives.
But despite billing his plans as a “one-way road to freedom”, he admitted he cannot guarantee that the vaccination programme will prevent restrictions from ever returning.
His tentative schedule for easing restrictions will be followed on Tuesday afternoon by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon detailing her own plan for easing Scotland’s lockdown.
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The Prime Minister accepted that scientific modelling suggested that lifting measures will increase Covid-19 cases and ultimately deaths, but said restrictions cannot continue indefinitely.
In the first step of the “road map”, all pupils in England’s schools are expected to return to class from March 8, with wider use of face masks and testing in secondaries.
Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted from that date.
A further easing will take place on March 29, when the school Easter holidays begin, with larger groups of up to six people or two households allowed to gather in parks and gardens.
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Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “Thanks to the vaccinations there is light ahead, leading us to a spring and a summer, which I think will be seasons of hope, looking and feeling incomparably better for us all.”
But with some Conservative lockdown-sceptics arguing that the plans are too cautious, Mr Johnson denied he was being a “gloomster”, as figures showed there have been 140,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.
However, the Prime Minister acknowledged he “can’t guarantee it’s going to be irreversible” with new variants posing a threat to his plans.
The Government launched a review looking at the use of “Covid status” certificates, which could be used by people to demonstrate they had received a jab or a negative coronavirus test in order to enter venues, or allow firms to reduce restrictions as a result of the status of their customers.
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