The Prime Minister has revealed his route map out of the national lockdown will be announced later this month.
The third national lockdown began on January 4 which was prompted by a spike in cases blamed on the new variant of Covid-19 which began in Kent.
While vaccination rollouts have gathered, pace the reduction in cases, hospital admissions and deaths have not been as quick as the Government hoped.
Mr Johnson told the House of Commons on Wednesday a review will take place in mid-February, as planned.
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He said: “When parliament returns from recess in the week commencing February 22, we intend to set out the results of that review, and publish our plan for taking the country out of lockdown.”
First on the agenda will be the reopening of schools.
At a press conference in Downing Street on Wednesday the Prime Minister said: “In the days leading up to our review point in the week of February 15 we will be accumulating even more data, helped by NHS Test and Trace, so that we can begin to chart a way ahead.
“Starting, if the data allow, with the re-opening of schools on March 8. And I will be setting out as much as we can about that roadmap forward on February 22.”
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The government had already said they planned to review the effectiveness of lockdown on February 15.
That date is significant as it is when the government hopes to have offered the vaccine to Britain’s four most vulnerable groups.
The revelation came as the UK hit a major vaccination milestone, with 10 million first doses now administered.
Infections ‘still alarmingly high’
But that optimism has been tempered by worrying figures that remain in relation to the virus.
While the numbers of Covid-19 patients in hospital are beginning to fall for the first time since the onset of the latest wave, Mr Johnson says infection levels are “still alarmingly high”, with a further 1,322 deaths reported on Wednesday.
At the press conference he said: “It is thanks to their effort, the most colossal in the history of our National Health Service, that we have today passed the milestone of 10 million vaccinations in the United Kingdom.
“Including almost 90 per cent of those aged 75 and over in England and every eligible person in a care home.
“And with every jab and every day, we have more evidence about the effectiveness of these vaccines.”
By law, the UK government must review lockdown restrictions every two weeks.
Restrictions into March?
While lockdown rules are reviewed every fortnight, national restrictions were expected to be extended into March, especially as the death toll has now surpassed 100,000.
On Monday, January 17, Mr Johnson said: “We are going as fast as we can, we will do everything we can, obviously, to open up.
“But when we come to February 15, that’s the moment we have to take stock, that’s the time to look at where the virus is.
“It’s only really then that we can talk about what steps we can take to relax.”
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‘Halfway house’ for pubs and restaurants
Last week The Telegraph reported that the UK could face a three-month ‘halfway house’ lockdown after Easter which would see pubs and restaurants reopen but with strict social distancing measures in place.
Any return to some kind of normality would rely on all over-50s receiving the second dose of the vaccine.
Once schools begin to reopen, it is like personal freedom rules will be the next to be relaxed, meaning allowing family and friends to meet outdoors.
-- to www.hulldailymail.co.uk