Boris Johnson 'hopeful' for success of lockdown roadmap
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In 2020, Parliament passed The Coronavirus Act which allows Government to implemented restrictions to stop the virus spreading. The Prime Minister will need to secure backing for the legislation when it comes for renewal at the end of the month. But as cases and deaths fall and the rate of vaccinations rise, “dozens” of Tory MPs may not support renewing the measures.
MPs are expected to be given a vote on both extending the Coronavirus Act, which expires on March 25, and on other lockdown measures, which expire on March 31.
Downing Street sources have suggested votes will be carried out early next week ahead of the Easter recess.
Senior Tories have warned dozens of party MPs will vote against, or abstain, an extension if the coronavirus infection rate continues to fall.
Friday saw the ‘R rate’ fall to between 0.6 and 0.8 new cases per infected person, the lowest it has been since September.
MP Mark Harper, the chairman of the anti-lockdown Coronavirus Recovery Group (CRG) of Tory MPs, told The Telegraph falling cases and rising vaccinations should see restrictions lifted faster.
He told the newspaper: “With better news and data each week about the NHS vaccination rollout, and as Parliament considers the new regulations later this month, the Government must ensure that data, science and evidence lie at the heart of its approach as we lift restrictions.
“Sticking rigidly to a set of dates based on now outdated, overly pessimistic modelling would be a mistake.”
After Mr Johnson shared the roadmap out lockdown on February 22, Tory MPs were unhappy with the slow pace of easing restrictions.
Mr Harper said at the time: “There is a clear and concerning pattern of assumptions not reflecting the much more positive reality.
“At the very least, this raises some serious questions about the extent to which these models should be relied on.”
The Prime Minister defended the pace and said: “I understand and sympathise with both of those points of view because levels of infection are still high and we must strike a very careful balance and always accept we must be humble in the face of nature.
“But also, we must accept that we cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that have separated families and loved ones for too long, and threatened the livelihoods of millions, and kept pupils out of school.”
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Yesterday saw another 5,534 cases and 121 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
In total, the UK has seen 4,253,820 cases and 125,464 deaths from the virus.
As of yesterday, 23,684,103 Brits had received their first coronavirus vaccine dose and 1,532,754 had received their second.
Under the roadmap, the ‘rule of six’ will return and organised gatherings can take place on March 29 at the earliest.
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