Nadhim Zahawi tells LBC the Government 'doesn't want to introduce tougher lockdown measures'

11 January 2021, 08:57

By Megan White

Nadhim Zahawi has urged the public to stay at home amid soaring Covid cases as he told LBC the Government does not want to implement tougher lockdown restrictions.

The Vaccine Deployment Minister told Nick Ferrari that the Government "doesn't want to go any further" in implementing restrictions, despite a continuing rise in coronavirus cases.

He urged the public to stay at home and only leave the house for exercise while the vaccination programme is rolled out.

Read more: Mass vaccination sites to open across England as jab programme ramps up

Mr Zahawi said there were currently "200,000 jabs in arms a day" and that there had been a "marked increase" in the number of vaccinations delivered in the past week.

He also said the top four most vulnerable categories will be protected by mid-February, with 1/3 of over 80s already vaccinated.

Asked about the possibility of tougher lockdown restrictions, Mr Zahawi said: "We don't want to introduce tougher measures.

"The measures are pretty tough as it is - we're in lockdown, the message is stay at home.

"If you need to go out for exercise, it's exercise only for one hour, it's not about socialising.

Read more: NHS facing 'most dangerous situation in memory', Professor Chris Whitty warns

"This virus loves social interaction, especially the new variant, which is much more infectious.

"We are all prosocial animals, I understand that, it's in our DNA to want to socialise, but just remember, for each and every one of those social interactions, in a park, anywhere else, you may be just giving that virus the opportunity to spread even further and kill more of our most vulnerable people in our community.

"So please, please, please stay at home. We don't want to go any further.

"I am concerned about supermarkets, they've done a great job until now, but we've got to make sure people follow the one-way system, wear masks or face coverings, and of course make sure that if the supermarket is at capacity, they're patient and wait outside."

Asked whether he was confident nurseries could stay open despite the closure of primary schools, Mr Zahawi said: "As I said, we don't want to go any tougher - these measures are pretty tough as it is.

"They both are secure because primary schools and secondary schools are, at the moment, making sure that the most vulnerable children and those of critical workers - the sons and daughters of NHS workers or care home workers - who are making sure that the most vulnerable are being looked after and helping those who have got the virus have to be able to go to school, they are going to school, they are safe.

"This isn't about us setting rules and people pushing against them, as if it's a boundary to be stretched.

"We are all in this together.

"This virus loves that social interaction - stay at home."