Government will 'look at potential' of easing lockdown measures within weeks - PM

25 January 2021, 11:24 | Updated: 25 January 2021, 18:14

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets staff and patients at Barnet FC's ground, The Hive, which is being used as a coronavirus vaccination centre
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets staff and patients at Barnet FC's ground, The Hive, which is being used as a coronavirus vaccination centre. Picture: Getty

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The Government will look at the "potential" of relaxing some lockdown measures from mid-February, Boris Johnson has said.

It came as the Prime Minister hailed the success of the UK’s vaccination programme, after a record-breaking 491,970 people were injected in a single day over the weekend.

On a visit to a vaccination site at Barnet Football Club in north London, Mr Johnson said ministers were looking at infection rates and progress in vaccinating the top priority groups, which are expected to be completed by mid-February.

"But before then we'll be looking at the potential of relaxing some measures," he said.

READ MORE: Pressure grows on PM over plans to reopen England's schools

READ MORE: Quarantine hotels to be given the go-ahead by Boris Johnson for all UK arrivals

His comments come as a surprise after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday the Government is a "long, long, long way off" being able to lift lockdown restrictions while case numbers are so high.

Downing Street aides also clarified that Mr Johnson meant February 15 was the earliest point at which any rules could be changed.

On schools, the Prime Minister said parents and teachers would be told “as much as we can as soon as we can”, however he refused to guarantee pupils would return before Easter.

Headteacher: Huge damage is being done to children's futures

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is widely expected to confirm this week that there will be no return to the classroom after the February half-term break as ministers had hoped.

Mr Johnson said: "I do think now this massive achievement has been made of rolling out this vaccination programme, I think people want to see us making sure we don't throw that away by having a premature relaxation and then another big surge of infection."

"Believe me, there's nothing I want to do more than reopen schools, I've fought to keep schools open for as long as I possibly could," he added.

"We want to see schools back as fast as possible, we want to do that in a way that is consistent with fighting the epidemic and keeping the infection rate down."

Boris Johnson hinted at the relaxing for lockdown restrictions from mid-February
Boris Johnson hinted at the relaxing for lockdown restrictions from mid-February. Picture: PA

The Prime Minister also said the Government was "definitely looking at" the possibility of travellers arriving in the UK being required to quarantine in hotels.

He said: "We have to realise there is at least the theoretical risk of a new variant that is a vaccine-busting variant coming in, we've got to be able to keep that under control."

He went on: "We want to make sure that we protect our population, protect this country against reinfection from abroad.

"That idea of looking at hotels is certainly one thing we're actively now working on.

"We need a solution that gives us the maximum possible protection against reinfection from abroad."

Quarantine hotels are under 'active consideration' by Government

Senior ministers are due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the proposal to require travellers to pay to quarantine at a designated hotel to ensure they are following self-isolation rules.

The proposal is said to have the backing of key ministers including Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, as well as Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

It was prompted by the emergence of new variants of the virus in South Africa and Brazil which scientists fear may be less susceptible to the vaccines that have been developed.

The latest Government figures show more than 6.3 million people across the UK have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Based on the latest figures, an average of 393,031 first doses of vaccine would be needed each day in order to meet the Government's target of vaccinating the top four priority groups - including all over-70s - by mid-February.

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Britain's King Charles III, wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Robe of State, sits alongside Britain's Queen Camilla,

Planning reform blitz, ban on zero-hour contracts and Sunak’s smoking bill revived: the King’s Speech in brief

Police have released CCTV images from the Hackney shooting

Girl, 9, critically injured in Hackney shooting 'may never speak again' as police release CCTV images of motorcyclist

Jay Slater's family will fly back with his body

Jay Slater's family to return to UK with his body as his heartbroken mum begins funeral plans

English cricketer James Vince

England cricket star James Vince and his family ‘living in fear’ after home attacked twice in middle of the night

Six people were found dead at a luxury hotel in Bangkok died from cyanide

Six people who died 'foaming at the mouth' in five-star luxury Thai hotel were poisoned by drinks laced with cyanide

Britain's King Charles III speaks during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London.

King's Speech Live: Planning reform and growth at heart of King's Speech

UK inflation remains unchanged

UK inflation remains unchanged at 2% - holding steady at Bank of England's target rate

Rachel Reeves is facing calls to launch an inheritance tax raid on pension pots

Rachel Reeves faces calls to launch inheritance tax raid on pension pots in bid to raise extra £2 billion a year

Keir Starmer will reform the planning system

Local residents to lose power to block new housing as Starmer vows to 'get rid of brakes on planning system'

The Bibby Stockholm is now almost full with 410 people on board, LBC has learned

Mutiny on the Bibby: Migrants go on hunger strike and protests erupt on ‘hell barge’ Bibby Stockholm

A third pro is said to have been named as a 'person of interest' in the Strictly investigation

'Third Strictly professional dancer named' as 'person of interest' in investigation into abuse and bullying claims

Joe Biden has vowed to outlaw the gun used to shoot at Donald Trump

Joe Biden vows to outlaw assault rifle gunman used to shoot at Donald Trump, as he says 'politics has got too heated'

Police confirmed the human remains belonged to missing teen Jay Slater after a 29-day search

Jay Slater's mother 'wants to see him one last time' after Spanish authorities confirm body found is her missing son

Enzo Fernandez filmed himself and his Argentina teammates singing an offensive song

Chelsea star Enzo Fernandez slammed by teammate Fofana for 'uninhibited racism' after offensive chant

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump

Boris Johnson urges Donald Trump to support Ukraine in one-on-one meeting

Snipers weren't placed on the "sloping roof" used by the shooter who attempted to assassinate Presidential nominee Donald Trump over "safety concerns", the head of the US Secret Service has admitted.

Snipers weren't placed on 'sloping roof' used by would-be Trump assassin over 'safety' concerns