PM to lay out roadmap for easing lockdown over coming months on 22 February, No10 confirms

12 February 2021, 12:52 | Updated: 12 February 2021, 13:53

Boris Johnson will lay out the roadmap for easing lockdown over the coming months on 22 February
Boris Johnson will lay out the roadmap for easing lockdown over the coming months on 22 February. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Boris Johnson will lay out his roadmap for easing lockdown over the coming months on 22 February, Downing Street has confirmed.

The plan to ease the coronavirus lockdown in England will be set out in 10 days after some Tory MPs expressed concern that the timetable may have slipped back further.

A No10 spokesman said: "On 22 February, we will set out a gradual and phased approach towards easing the restrictions in a sustainable way."

Concerns of a delay among Tory lockdown-sceptics were raised on Thursday when the prime minister's official spokesman said: "We've been clear we will publish the road map on the week of the 22nd."

On Friday, the No10 spokesman did not rule out that one option being considered is social distancing being maintained until the autumn.

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"The latest data and evidence clearly shows that we remain in a difficult situation with the pressure on the NHS still very significant.

"We keep the latest data and evidence under constant review and on 22 February we will be setting out our plan to reopen schools and gradually reopening our economy and society," he said.

England's third national lockdown began in early January following a significant rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths.

All schools and non-essential retail have been closed since, while members of the public were once again told to work from home.

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On Friday, Professor Neil Ferguson said Mr Johnson will "have some bandwidth" to start reopening schools in March before potentially beginning to ease other restrictions the following month.

The key scientist advising the government as part of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said he is "hopeful" that the nation could be in its "final lockdown".

Prof Ferguson said that the "best estimates" suggest that, by May, restrictions akin to those in Tier 2 could be in place, before moving into Tier 1-like measures if the incidence of the virus is "very low".

Meanwhile, the latest government data showed that the UK's R number has dropped to below 1 for the first time since July.

It is now estimated to be between 0.7 and 0.9 across the country, in a sign that lockdown restrictions are having an impact.

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