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Govt to remain 'cautious and careful' in lifting lockdown restrictions, Raab tells LBC
13 June 2021, 12:03
The government will continue its "cautious and careful" approach to easing lockdown restrictions, Dominic Raab has told LBC.
The foreign secretary said ministers continue to look at crucial coronavirus data, which is "coming in all the time" ahead of Boris Johnson's final decision to be announced on Monday.
Mr Raab repeated the government's dedication to the 'four tests' which need to be met for most of the remaining restrictions to be lifted on 21 June.
Explained: What is the next stage of lockdown easing?
Asked whether the UK met the tests, he said: "We've always said we need to track very carefully four criteria but probably the biggest one is the link between the transmission of the virus and hospitalisation.
"We know that 78 per cent of adults have had their first vaccine and 55 per cent of them have had the second dose, and it's when you've had that second dose that you've got the strongest protection, not just against the virus but also the variant."
Mr Raab refused to be drawn on whether 21 June will go ahead but said "the end is near" and the "light is at the end of the tunnel".
He continued: "The question is just have we got far enough? But let's make that decision based on the data and based on the evidence - I think that's what the public wants to see."
The prime minister on Saturday called the spread of the Delta variant - first discovered in India - a matter of "serious, serious concern".
Original estimates suggested the variant was around 40 per cent more infectious than the Alpha variant - first identified in Kent - but fresh data suggests it is around 60 per cent more transmissible.
The UK reported almost 50,000 new cases in the past seven days - up 53 per cent on the previous week.
Many of the cases are in the Greater Manchester and Lancashire, where the number of people being admitted to hospital with the virus is beginning to climb once again.
Businesses are awaiting the much-anticipated decision from the PM, with many - particularly the hospitality, tourism and cultural sectors - set to take the biggest hit if the final step in the lockdown roadmap is delayed.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote a letter to Mr Johnson on Friday, warning that "vital components of London’s vibrant history and global reputation, some of which have been closed since March 2020, are at risk of catastrophic collapse".
Greater Manchester's Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, tweeted on Saturday that businesspeople in the region were "at their wits end"
"The toll on peoples mental health is at tipping point," he said.