Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his roadmap for the easing of coronavirus lockdown rules in England. The announcement shared with MPs in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon laid out the gradual reopening of the economy over a period of at least four months.
But according to Mr Johnson, each stage of the roadmap relies on four data-focused tests being met, including the success of the vaccine rollout.
Now Government sources have told the Telegraph the data used in the risk assessment could point to an earlier easing of restrictions.
A senior Government source told the newspaper that if the favourable figures shown in an early Public Health Scotland study on jabs were materialised in England “that would change the calculations” on the timescale.
According to the publication, the Prime Minister is understood to have postponed the reopening of businesses until April 12 in a bid to avoid cancelling Easter if figures from the reopening of schools showed cases were increasing.
Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the COVID Recovery Group (CRG) of Tory MPs expressed hopes the Government would opt for an earlier lifting of restrictions if the conditions are met sooner than expected.
He told the Telegraph: “If the Government is following the data, that should mean setting us free sooner if the data shows it would be safe.
“I very much hope the Government won’t continue to rule that out.”
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“First, that the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully; second, that evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths; third, that infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS; and fourth, that our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of COVID that cause concern.
“Before taking each step we will review the data against these tests and because it takes at least four weeks for the data to reflect the impact of relaxations in restrictions and we want to give the country a week’s notice before each change – there will be at least five weeks between each step.
“The Chief Medical Officer is clear that moving any faster would mean acting before we know the impact of each step, which would increase the risk of us having to reverse course and re-impose restrictions. I won’t take that risk.”