'We've been successful at sticking to dates,' says Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng

21 June 2021, 09:32

By Fiona Jones

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told LBC's Nick Ferrari that the Government has been "successful at sticking to dates" during the Covid pandemic, despite today being originally earmarked as the end of lockdown.

21 June was initially marked 'Freedom Day' for England, however due to the rapid rise in Delta variant Covid cases, the Prime Minister has since announced a four-week delay to restriction easing.

Read more: "Optimist by nature": Business Secretary confident for full reopening in England on July 19

The business secretary told Nick Ferrari he was "as disappointed as anybody" that the country did not reopen fully today.

"We looked at the data, we thought we need to get a bit more time to get a bit more information and also to make sure that more people have got their vaccines,

"I think we'll be able to get there on 19th July and fully reopen," he said.

Nick questioned why some people have attended events such as Donnington Festival when some LBC listeners have not been able to invite more than 60 people at a wedding, branding the restrictions "ludicrous."

Mr Kwarteng said: "It's very difficult, there's lots of anomalies, lots of things that people will look at and say that isn't fair.

"We’ve got broad guidelines. I think we’ve been successful at sticking to the dates frankly. If you look at the 12th April, nothing happened, 17th May we reopened."

Nick pointed out that the Government has not stuck to today's 'Freedom Day'.

"No we haven’t. It was a pause, as I said, it was a difficult, I remember talking to you about it at the time, we would look at the data.

"It was a difficult call but we’ve always said that we would rather be a little bit more cautious and make sure it was a much steadier reopening, so that we didn’t have any of the kind of confusion that we had last year, where we had another lockdown. We don’t want that."

His comments come as more than one million Covid-19 jabs were booked in just two days after the NHS opened its vaccination programme to all remaining adults in England.

A total of 1,008,472 appointments were arranged over Friday and Saturday through the booking service, NHS England said - an average of more than 21,000 every hour, or six every second.

The full figure is likely to be higher as it does not include appointments at local GP-led vaccination services or people getting the jab at walk-in centres.

The NHS has now administered around 62 million doses since Margaret Keenan became the first member of the public to get a jab on December 8.