Infections must be “in the hundreds” for the Government to consider lifting most lockdown restrictions, the Telegraph has reported. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to make an announcement next Friday outlining the next steps towards the easing of lockdown measures.
Highlighting the importance of reopening schools, Mr Johnson conceded that, if the vaccine programme gives good results, the Government hopes “it will therefore be safe to begin the reopening of schools from Monday March 8, with other economic and social restrictions being removed thereafter, as and when the data permits”.
But the reopening of hospitality and retail businesses may have to wait until the effect of the return to the classrooms can be assessed.
A senior Whitehall source told the Telegraph: “For any significant relaxation of lockdown, household mixing and reopening pubs, case numbers have to be in the hundreds, not thousands.
“The numbers are coming down quite fast, but the plan is likely to be high level and set out the tests that have to be met for restrictions to be released.
“There is real reluctance about committing to specific dates without knowing what the case numbers are doing.”
On Tuesday, Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine minister, told Sky News he would not theorise around the figures.
He said: “The Prime Minister is right to say that where we are today in terms of number of people in hospital, in terms of case numbers per day, is still far too high, and we want to make sure we bring that right down.
“But I wouldn’t want to speculate on this until we see more data.”