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World England's lockdown 'should' start being eased in March, minister says

12:25  05 january  2021
12:25  05 january  2021 Source:   news.sky.com

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The government " should be able" to begin easing England ' s coronavirus lockdown in March , a senior minister has told Sky News. Michael Gove said the public should not expect a sudden relaxation of the COVID-19 rules, with restrictions "progressively" eased instead. The prime minister will hold a Downing Street news conference from 5pm on Tuesday, where he will be joined by England ' s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser. The prime minister announced the lockdown in an eight-minute TV address on Monday night, after

England ' s coronavirus lockdown may last until March says Gove – video. The Cabinet Office minister , Michael Gove, said he hoped the gradual lifting of restrictions could begin in mid-February, but that the time it took for the vaccines to take effect meant it was likely to be at least another couple of weeks before measures could start to be eased. “We can’t predict with certainty that we’ll be able to lift restrictions the week commencing the 15 to 22 [February], what we will be doing is everything we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated so that we can begin progressively to lift

The government "should be able" to begin easing England's coronavirus lockdown in March, a senior minister has told Sky News.

Michael Gove said the public should not expect a sudden relaxation of the COVID-19 rules, with restrictions "progressively" relaxed instead.

And he warned of "very, very difficult weeks ahead" as the country battles to reduce the spread of coronavirus, which is being driven by a new variant that has been judged to be between 50% and 70% more transmissible.

As vaccines continue to be rolled out, the country is in a "race against time" against the variant, Mr Gove added.

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The new lockdown in England at a glance. England will be put into a full national lockdown that will last until the February half term. According to the new rules: All primary and secondary schools will close with immediate effect. The latest huge intervention came amid fears that the lockdown will slash GDP by up to 10 per cent in every month it is imposed - although the respected IFS think-tank said this morning that the impact might be lower as businesses have adapted since the first squeeze in March .

This was the busy scene in Victoria Park in East London, as locked - down Brits enjoyed warmer weather on February 20Credit: London News Pictures. What did Boris Johnson announce? The Prime Minister spoke in the House of Commons at 3.30pm outlining a lockdown roadmap, before making a televised He also said that vaccines save lives and reduce hospitalisations, but there will be more deaths when lockdown eases "just as there are with flu". Extending lockdown would "itself cost lives and do immeasurable harm", he says . The Government will advance in four steps, each at least four

a sign on a pole on a city street: Boris Johnson has introduced a third national lockdown in England © Imagebridge Boris Johnson has introduced a third national lockdown in England

He acknowledged that the government's new target of offering a COVID-19 jab to nearly 14 million people in the top four priority groups by the middle of February was "stretching", but stressed it was achievable.

Asked how long the lockdown could last, the Cabinet Office minister said ministers would "review the progress that we've made" on 15 February.

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More on coronavirus:

Download the Microsoft News app for full coverage of the crisis

What are the latest lockdown rules? (Evening Standard)

Third lockdown: Why Britain failed, again (The Atlantic)

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England is still in a national lockdown . You must stay at home, leaving only where permitted by law, and follow the rules in this guidance. How the rules will change on 29 March . However, you should continue to take extra precautions to protect yourself. It is important that you continue to keep the number of social interactions that you have low and try to limit the amount of time you spend in settings where you are unable to maintain social distancing. If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this.

England ’ s national Covid lockdown has been extended until at least March 8, Boris Johnson has announced. The PM has confirmed all non-essential businesses and schools will remain shut because the country still faces a ‘perilous situation’ despite signs that infections rates are slowing. The Prime Minister said the Government would set out plans in the week beginning February 22 for a ‘gradual and phased’ route out of lockdown . He told MPs: ‘It was the emergence of a new variant that forced England back into lockdown and I know everyone yearns to know how much longer we must endure

He added: "We hope that we will be able to progressively lift restrictions after that but what I can't do is predict - nobody can predict - with accuracy exactly what we will be able to relax and when.

"What we do know is that the more effective our vaccination programme, the more people who are protected in that way, the easier it will be to lift these restrictions."

Gallery: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world (Photo Services) 

Pressed again on a timeframe for easing restrictions, Mr Gove said: "We will keep these constantly under review but you are absolutely right, we can't predict with certainty that we will be able to lift restrictions in the week commencing February 15-22.

"What we will be doing is everything that we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated, so that we can begin to progressively lift restrictions.

"I think it is right to say that as we enter March we should be able to lift some of these restrictions but not necessarily all."

He was speaking after Boris Johnson introduced a third national lockdown in England, with people told to "stay at home" as they did during last March's first shutdown.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 15, 2020: Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove leaves Downing Street in central London after attending weekly Cabinet meeting held at the Foreign Office on 15 December, 2020 in London, England. The UK and EU leaders have agreed to carry on post-Brexit trade talks and vowed to go 'extra mile' to try and reach a deal, with less than three weeks until the end of the transition period.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images) © Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 15, 2020: Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove leaves Downing Street in central London after attending weekly Cabinet meeting held at the Foreign Office on 15 December, 2020 in London, England. The UK and EU leaders have agreed to carry on post-Brexit trade talks and vowed to go 'extra mile' to try and reach a deal, with less than three weeks until the end of the transition period.- PHOTOGRAPH BY Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

The prime minister revealed the action in an eight-minute TV address on Monday night, after being told that COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly in every part of the country due to the new variant.

As of Monday, there were 26,626 COVID patients in hospital in England - an increase of over 30% in one week and now more than 40% higher than the peak of the first wave of infections last April.

There has also been a near 25% increase in the number of deaths in the past seven days, compared to the previous week.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told Sky News he has some "quarrels and criticisms" with the government over the latest shutdown, but added that "everybody recognises how serious this is".

A pedestrian walks across a deserted Millennium Bridge as Britain enters a national lockdown in London on January 5, 2021. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced a six-week lockdown for England's 56 million people, including the closure of schools, after a surge in coronavirus cases brought warnings that hospitals could soon face collapse. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images) A pedestrian walks across a deserted Millennium Bridge as Britain enters a national lockdown in London on January 5, 2021. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced a six-week lockdown for England's 56 million people, including the closure of schools, after a surge in coronavirus cases brought warnings that hospitals could soon face collapse. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

"This is a time where we all have to say we will support the restrictions and do what we can to make these work," he said.

Sir Keir said he had "doubts" about the vaccination target outlined by the PM, adding: "This is a race against time - I want the government to succeed... and I will offer my support."

It was also announced by Mr Johnson on Monday that all primary schools, secondary schools and colleges are now closed, except for the vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

Mr Gove said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson would update MPs on Wednesday on how pupils will be assessed at the end of the year.

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) patrol along Briggate in the city centre of Leeds, Yorkshire, the morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out further measures as part of a lockdown in England in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images) © PA Wire/PA Images Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) patrol along Briggate in the city centre of Leeds, Yorkshire, the morning after Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out further measures as part of a lockdown in England in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced grants totalling £4.6bn to help struggling businesses.

In Scotland, a lockdown for the vast majority of the country came into force at midnight.

Deputy first minister John Swinney told Sky News the measures will be in place for a "substantial period".

"We've had to take these measures, we very much regret that we've had to take these steps... but it's the right thing to do to protect the public," he said.

The government in Wales announced that all schools and colleges will move to online learning until 18 January.

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster - who imposed a six-week lockdown from Boxing Day - said on Monday night the "stay at home" instruction would now be put back into law, with an update on schools to come on Tuesday.

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Stay alert to stop coronavirus spreading - here is the latest government guidance. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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