Steve Baker explained that the Government is aiming to vaccinate two-thirds of the top nine priority groups by Easter and hopes to complete the rollout by the end of April. He said the Government should only implement restrictions which are proportional to the “harm coronavirus is doing” by then arguing the hospitality industry can open in a Covid secure way towards the end of May. It comes as the Government has offered a vaccine to the top four priority groups – roughly 15 million people.
Speaking on talkRADIO, host Julia Hartley-Brewer asked: “How hopeful are you that the Government, as they start their review of the lockdown rules and the lockdown exit strategy, we’re hoping to hear from the Prime Minister next Monday on February 22.
“How hopeful are you that they are listening to what your group of MPs has to say?”
Mr Baker replied: “Well, I’m very hopeful and confident that they’re listening because what we’re saying is so intimately connected to the vaccine rollout.
“The team (will) announce later today we hit the top four groups, who account for 88 percent of people who have sadly died in this crisis so far.
“By the time we get to Easter we’ll have vaccinated about two-thirds of groups, one to nine, and by the end of April we should have completed groups one to nine that includes people under the age of 50, who are vulnerable to disease.
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“So we think it’s reasonable to ask for all schools returning back on March 8 and for ministers to then have restrictions which are proportionate to the harm that COVID-19 is then capable of doing.
“Of course, Easter is a very big deal for the hospitality sectors and restaurants and pubs having invested in being COVID secure, we think that we should be, as we cast our minds forward seven weeks, we think we should be looking at Easter for pubs and restaurants and hospitality venues being able to open.
“And then by the time we get to the end of April, and the vulnerable have been vaccinated, accounting for 99 percent of those who so far have died in this crisis.
“We think that’s the point of which really is very difficult to justify, that’s impossible to justify further legislative restrictions on people’s lives.
The Government is now beginning to roll out phase two of the programme which will target everyone over-50 and anyone with underlying health conditions above the age of 16.
This will be roughly 17.2 million as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he hopes for this to be the last lockdown.
When asked about current measures being the “final lockdown”, Mr Hancock replied: “Absolutely, we very much hope so, and having a sustainable exit and lifting the measures in such a way that can be sustainable so we don’t have to have another lockdown is an important part of our considerations.
“For me, making sure that as we lift measures we do so carefully and cautiously to make sure that we don’t have to put them on again.”