Boris Johnson announces 'phased' route out of lockdown will be revealed from February 22
BORIS Johnson today announced the government will reveal its "phased" route out of lockdown in the week beginning February 22.
The Prime Minister said schools will be the first to reopen under the new road map, which will take a "gradual" approach to lifting restrictions.
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When he announced England's national shutdown at the start of the month Mr Johnson said it would initially last until the middle of February – by which time the Government aims to vaccinate all the over 70s, NHS staff and the clinically vulnerable who have been shielding for months.
Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon, the PM said he will review current lockdown measures in mid February, but left the door open for them to be extended.
"I can tell the House that when parliament returns from recess on the week beginning February 22, we intend to set out the results of that review and publish our plan for taking the country out of lockdown," he said.
The plan will depend on "the continued success of the vaccination program," as well as the "capacity of the NHS" and the rate at which people are dying from coronavirus in the UK.
And the road to freedom will take a "gradual and phased approach," with the reopening of schools a priority.
It comes as…
- Boris Johnson set to impose £1,500 10-day Covid hotel quarantine on arrivals from high-risk Portugal, Brazil and Dubai
- Most common symptoms of new Covid strain revealed for first time – and they’re DIFFERENT to original variant
- Boris Johnson to hold a 5pm press conference TONIGHT as UK to announce hotel quarantine
- New Covid antibody drug being trialled on NHS found to ‘prevent 100% of symptomatic infections’
The PM admitted today that getting kids back to class was tied to the national restrictions – and children will not be going back after February half-term as hoped.
Mr Johnson told Parliament this afternoon kids would continue to learn remotely for another five weeks – and there was not yet enough data to decide when to lift the lockdown measures.
He said: "At this point, we do not have enough data to judge the full effect of vaccines in blocking transmission nor the extent and speed with which the vaccines will reduce hospitalisations and deaths, nor how quickly the combination of vaccinations and the lockdown can be expected to ease the pressure on the NHS."
The news will be a massive blow to parents and children hoping for schools would be able to reopen, as in the November lockdown.
But the PM promised: "The most important thing is to get kids back in school as soon as we sensibly can.
"That is what the government is determined to do."
It comes after the UK's Covid death toll passed 100,000 yesterday – less than a year since the first coronavirus death was recorded here.
Boris Johnson said last night he was "deeply sorry" for every life lost telling PMQs this lunchtime "I grieve every death".
He told MPs: "I and the Government take full responsibility for all the actions I have taken, we have taken in this pandemic.
"There will be a time to reflect and prepare. I don't believe this is now.
"What the country wants is for us to come together, work to keep the virus under control as we are, and continue to rollout the fastest vaccination programme in Europe."
The Prime Minister will hold a 5pm press conference this evening as the UK is set to announce hotel quarantine rules for arrivals from Covid hotspots.
Meanwhile the Home Secretary will this afternoon set out "even tougher measures" for as many as 30 "red list" countries to stupid mutant strains of coronavirus making it to Britain's shores.
Priti Patel is expected to slap extra travel curbs on destinations across Europe, Africa, and South America to try and keep out mutant strains that could potentially be "vaccine-busting".
Ms Patel is also set to make it harder for Brits to leave the UK, with extra checks at airports.
It was reported that the Home Secretary had pushed for a total closure of the UK's borders, as Labour is demanding, but that was rejected by the PM.
Instead, under the new regime means arrivals from the 30 most high risk countries will have to immediately quarantine in hotels near airports for 10 days.
The 10 day stay in a hotel could cost travellers as much as £1,500.
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