Michael Gove suggests third coronavirus lockdown might not end until March

The Cabinet Office minister said he could not give a firm date for when the Government would be able to lift restrictions, which Boris Johnson said on Monday he hoped could be lifted from mid-February. 

Mr Gove told Sky News: “It’s important to stress that we want to progressively lift restrictions but what we need to do is to make sure as many people as possible – especially the vulnerable first – are vaccinated. 

“We will be able to review the progress we’ve made on the 15th of February, just before the traditional school half term.

“And we hope that we will be able to progressively lift restrictions after that. But what I can’t do is predict – nobody can predict – with accuracy exactly what we will be able to relax and when.”

He later added: “I think it is right to say that as we enter March we should be able to lift some of these restrictions but not necessarily all.”

Mr Gove said the more effective the vaccination programme is and the more who are protected the “easier” it will be to lift restrictions.

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Asked if the country would be in lockdown conditions until at least March, he replied: “You’re quite right to say it takes some time immediately after the vaccination for people to get the benefit of full immunity.

“We will keep these constantly under review. But you are absolutely right we can’t predict with certainty that we will be able to lift restrictions in the week commencing the 15th or 22nd.

“What we will be doing is everything we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated so that we can begin progressively to lift restrictions.”

Mr Gove told Sky News that “just over a million people” have been given a coronavirus vaccine in the UK. He urged people to stay at home and follow the guidance as he warned the UK is facing a “race against time”.

“This virus is gathering at speed, it’s affecting more and more of us,” he said. 

“Our hospitals are facing unprecedented pressure.

“We all have a part to play in trying to reduce the spread of the virus, by staying at home and observing the rules. We hope the accelerating pace of vaccination will provide us with an opportunity to lift these measures in due course.”

Evening Standard – News