Matt Hancock to give Covid press briefing after claims lockdown may be relaxed

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to give a press conference on Monday at 5pm at Downing Street on the latest updates on coronavirus.

The government hasn't confirmed whether he will be making any new announcements.

During England's national lockdown, the government is aiming to hold around three press conferences a week – down from seven in the first lockdown last Spring.

It comes after Boris Johnson appeared to suggest lockdown measures may be relaxed before the middle of next month.

The Prime Minister added his government will be "looking at the potential of relaxing some measures" before mid-February.

But he couldn't give a guarantee schools would be back before Easter.

Johnson went on: "I do think now this massive achievement has been made of rolling out this vaccination programme, I think people want to see us making sure we don't throw that away by having a premature relaxation and then another big surge of infection.

"I totally understand the frustrations of parents, I really thank teachers for what they're doing, the immense efforts they're going to to teach kids online, and the Government has provided a lot of laptops… I know that's no substitute for direct face-to-face learning.

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"Believe me there's nothing I want to do more than reopen schools, I've fought to keep schools open for as long as I possibly could.

"We want to see schools back as fast as possible, we want to do that in a way that is consistent with fighting the epidemic and keeping the infection rate down."

The Prime Minister's remarks appeared to spark confusion about what "looking at" easing restrictions would look like.

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It now appears he meant conversations about easing restrictions – rather than the easing itself – could happen by February 15.

Moments after his comments, a Number 10 source clarified: "The PM’s quote on the 15th is being misinterpreted. That remains the earliest point at which we could change any of the rules."

The government is facing pressure over its schools policy after Boris Johnson refused to give a date of when they will reopen.

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  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown
  • Boris Johnson

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