Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab: No single 'cast iron formula' for lifting lockdown

17 February 2021, 08:29 | Updated: 17 February 2021, 11:55

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Dominic Raab today told LBC there is no “cast iron formula” for lifting lockdown amid reports restrictions will only be eased when cases drop below 1,000 per day.

It comes with Prime Minister Boris Johnson set to outline a roadmap for ending coronavirus restrictions on Monday next week.

Foreign Secretary Mr Raab told Nick Ferrari: “There are always these snippets in the lead up to a key moment like next Monday.

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“The number of cases is important but so is the R level... there's the pressure on the NHS, there’s the rollout of the vaccine... you have to take a rounded judgement."

He added: “There’s no single cast iron formula or one particular indicator that above all other considerations can decide this so we’ll look at all of the indicators, all of the evidence.

“We know that the vaccine has had a significant role, you can see from the seven-day data on cases, hospital admissions and fatalities that we’re in the right direction, and the PM will set the roadmap out on Monday.”

The Telegraph reported on Wednesday that Covid-19 cases in the UK would need to drop below 1,000 per day before the lockdown is eased.

The figure is a long way from Tuesday's 10,625 lab-confirmed cases.

A senior Whitehall source told the paper: "For any significant relaxation of lockdown, household mixing and reopening pubs, case numbers have to be in the hundreds, not thousands. 

"The numbers are coming down quite fast, but the plan is likely to be high level and set out the tests that have to be met for restrictions to be released. There is real reluctance about committing to specific dates without knowing what the case numbers are doing."

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested the figure earlier this month when he urged a cautious approach to lifting restrictions and told ministers to listen "very carefully" to the scientific advice.

Schools are still set to reopen on March 8 however The Telegraph reported that Mr Johnson is unlikely to reveal a specific timetable for lifting the current restrictions beyond that when he reveals his plan next week.

Downing Street has said no decision had been made yet on easing the lockdown.

It comes as the Daily Mail reported that ministers are weighing up allowing holiday lets to open in time for the Easter weekend and that pubs could open in May, but with only up to two households permitted to mix indoors.

The rule of six would then come into force for mixing inside by June, it added.

It follows a report in The Times that claimed a Government testing blitz is set to start in time for some schools reopening next month.

The newspaper said NHS Test and Trace is preparing for nationwide "surge" testing under which more than 400,000 lateral flow tests, which can provide results in less than 30 minutes, will be sent by post to homes and workplaces every day under a scheme called "Are you ready? Get testing. Go".

Asked about the possibility of expanding the use of lateral flow tests, the department said more than 70% of local authorities in England were already offering rapid testing to those who are unable to work from home and pointed to the drive to widen the availability of quick-result testing to businesses with more than 50 employees.

A DHSC spokesman said: "We have not finalised further plans for testing."