Michael Gove says “very, very difficult weeks lie ahead” as the country struggles to reduce the spread of COVID-19

Political reporter
@ Alan_McGuinness

The government “should be able” to begin easing England’s coronavirus lockdown in March, a senior minister told Sky News

Michael Gove said the public shouldn’t expect a sudden easing of COVID-19 rules, instead restrictions should be “gradually” relaxed

And he warned of “very, very difficult weeks” as the country struggles to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, powered by a new variant that has been rated between 50% and 70% more communicable

As vaccines continue to roll out, the country is in a “race against time” against the variant, Gove added,

He acknowledged that the government’s new goal of offering a COVID-19 sting to nearly 14 million people in the top four priority groups by mid-February was “expanding,” but stressed that it was achievable
When asked how long the lockdown could last, the cabinet minister said ministers would be due on Nov. February “review the progress we’ve made”

He added, “We hope we can gradually lift the restrictions thereafter, but what I can’t do is predict – no one can predict – with accuracy exactly what we can relax and when

“We know that the more effective our vaccination program, the easier it is to lift these restrictions, the more people are protected in this way”

Mr Gove again pressed a timeframe for the restrictions to be relaxed, saying, “We will keep this under review but you are absolutely right We cannot predict with certainty that we will be able to lift restrictions in the week of February”15-22

“We will do everything possible to ensure that as many people as possible are vaccinated so that we can gradually lift the restrictions

“I think it is right to say that by the beginning of March we should be able to lift some of these restrictions, but not necessarily all”

He spoke after Boris Johnson instituted a third national lockdown in England urging people to “stay at home”, as it did with the first shutdown last March

The Prime Minister will hold a press conference in Downing Street on Tuesday from 5 p.m., attended by UK Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor

The Prime Minister announced the lockdown in an eight-minute televised address Monday evening after being told that COVID-19 cases are increasing rapidly in all parts of the country due to the new variant

There were 26 in England on Monday626 COVID patients in hospital – an increase of over 30% in one week and now more than 40% higher than the peak of the first wave of infections last April

In the past seven days, the number of deaths has increased by almost 25% compared to the previous week

Union leader Sir Keir Starmer told Sky News that he had some “arguments and criticisms” with the government over the recent shutdown but added that “everyone is realizing how serious this is”

“This is a time when we must all say that we support the restrictions and will do whatever we can to make them work,” he said

Sir Keir said he had “doubts” about the prime minister’s vaccination goal, adding, “This is a race against time – I want the government to succeed and I will offer my support”

On Monday, Mr. Johnson also announced that all elementary schools, secondary schools and colleges are closed except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers

Mr Gove has proposed abolishing year-end exams for high school students, and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will brief MPs on Wednesday on how young people will be assessed at the end of the year

And in a separate interview, the Cabinet Minister said a decision should be announced whether the UK will ask those entering the country at ports and airports to test negative for COVID-19 / p>

It includes one-time top-up grants worth up to 9£ 000 to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to support them through spring

In Scotland, a lockdown went into effect for the vast majority of the country at midnight

Deputy Prime Minister John Swinney told Sky News that the measures will be in place for a “substantial period”

“We had to take these steps, we are very sorry we had to take these steps, but it is the right thing to do to protect the public,” he said

The government in Wales announced that all schools and colleges would be closed by the age of 18 January will be switching to online learning

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster, who imposed a six-week embargo from Boxing Day, said Monday night that “stay at home” classes will now come back into effect and schools will be updated on Tuesday

© 2021 Sky UK

Michael Gove

World News – UK – COVID-19: England lockdown should be eased in March, says Michael Gove

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-englands-lockdown-should-start-being-eased-in-march-michael-gove-says-12179618