Coronavirus poll: Should England be locked down with toughest restrictions until April?

Matt Hancock hopes for a ‘great British summer’ post-lockdown

On January 8, the Prime Minister announced a third national lockdown, which was initially expected to last until the middle of February. With case and death rates still high, Cabinet is divided over how to proceed, with the Prime Minister potentially keeping the country under tough restrictions until the beginning of April. Others close to the Prime Minister, however, are desperate for a swift exit in a bid to kickstart the economy.

In light of this split, is asking in our exclusive online poll: “Should England be locked down with toughest restrictions until April?”

According to Times Radio’s Tom Newton Dunn, the UK’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, is one of the leading voices in favour of delaying an end to the lockdown.

He is backed by the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, with the pair fearful easing restrictions could trigger a sharp rise in cases – as seen following the Christmas amnesty.

Mr Whitty will only back easing the measures if deaths are down and hospitalisations reduce.

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Secondly, he has argued any lifting of the measures must be dependent on a slow and careful relaxation.

Even if measures are lifted, parts of the country will need to remain under tier restrictions in order to maintain case levels.

On January 18, the UK recorded a further 1,415 deaths while hospitalisations rose by 1,873 – cases once again increased by 37,535.

The UK Government has come under severe pressure to set out a plan for leaving the latest lockdown measures.

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Some Tory backbench MPs have called on the Prime Minister to reveal when restrictions may begin to be eased and how it will proceed when the four most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated.

Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe and deputy chairman of the COVID Recovery Group, warned the public and businesses cannot languish any longer in lockdown.

He said: “We locked down the country and shut down our schools on the basis of a forecast, so why can’t we open it up on the basis of one too?

“It is not sustainable to leave the public and British businesses languishing any longer.

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“Businesses and individuals desperately need hope and the opportunity to plan our recovery, that’s why we need to know our road to recovery as soon as possible.”

Vaccinating as many people as possible is one of the key drivers to Mr Johnson’s lockdown plans.

As of January 17, the UK has vaccinated 4,062,501 people with a first dose of a vaccine.

During a tour of the Oxford Biomedica vaccine plant, Mr Johnson stressed the programme must reach its target of two million vaccines a week in order for the country to come out of the lockdown. 

The Prime Minister said: “I understand completely that people want to get back to normal as fast as we possibly can.

“It does depend on things going well.

“It depends on the vaccination programme going well, it depends on there being no new variants that throw our plans out and we have to mitigate against, and it depends on everybody, all of us, remembering that we’re not out of the woods yet.

“We’re going as fast as we can but I stress we can do everything we can to open up but when we come to February 15, and the moment when we have to take stock of what we’ve achieved, that’s the time to look at where the virus is, the extent of the infection and the success that we’ve had.

“It’s only really then that we can talk about the way ahead and what steps we can take to relax.”

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