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MPs have voted on extending Covid laws for six months
25 March 2021, 09:20 | Updated: 25 March 2021, 18:10
A six-month extension for coronavirus laws will be voted on later in the Commons amid some opposition to restrictions from Tory rebels.
MPs have been asked to approve extending restrictions as part of Boris Johnson’s route out of lockdown.
His plan sees non-essential businesses and hospitality return as limits to social contacts are gradually removed over the next three months – with all restrictions scrapped from June 21 at the earliest.
Mr Johnson said he wants the limits to be removed "once and for all" and avoid having to again plunge the country back into social distancing measures.
Opposition to the Prime Minister’s cautious roadmap out of lockdown has fermented on his own backbenches but a rebellion is not expected to derail the plan.
Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, thinks hospitality should be reopened for the Easter weekend to give it a boost following months of restrictions that hit the industry hard.
"The sun is coming out, the vulnerable are getting vaccinated, but Easter is a major time for hospitality," he told LBC.
"That's a really massive cost for some of the younger and poorer people in our society, working in hospitality, and they won't be able to get their businesses and livelihoods back on track at that time.
"At the moment, it looks like the data is better than anyone's best estimates. I do certainly think the Prime Minister should be willing, in following the data, to bring the plan forwards because of the costs of the plan."
Opposition to a slow easing of restrictions has also been encouraged by data.
On Wednesday, the Government reported 5,605 cases and 98 deaths, while more than 28 million people have been given their first vaccine dose and 2.5 million have received their second.
Care minister Helen Whatley told LBC’s Nick Ferrari that Mr Johnson is clear June 21 is the earliest restrictions can be removed, and insisted: "We are being driven by the data rather than the dates."
From next week, as part of a package of new laws, people who leave the UK without a reasonable excuse could be fined up to £5,000 but outdoor protests will be explicitly allowed again.
MPs are to vote in the House of Commons later today.
It comes after mass anti-lockdown protests took place in London last weekend, with thousands of people taking to the streets to protest. Multiple arrests were made and protesters were filmed in heated clashes with police.