The Prime Minister has confirmed the government will issue a “route map” of England’s national lockdown on February 22nd – with schools being the first to reopen when restrictions are relaxed.
Speaking at a press conference on Downing Street, Boris Johnson said the government would collect more data in the week beginning February 15, ahead of the lockdown review, to find a way forward, starting with schools reopening.
Mr Johnson said the government believes that March 8th is the “prudent” date for schools to reopen in England.
This is three weeks after the most vulnerable groups should have received the vaccine. By this time immunity should have set in.
The Prime Minister said the evidence showed that the coronavirus vaccines reduced “death and serious illness” from major strains of the disease.
He said: “What we don’t want to do now, as we are making progress with the introduction of the vaccine and have a timetable for the way forward, we don’t want to be forced backwards.”
“We think this is the prudent and cautious approach. I think it’s much better to hold on to it. “
Mr Johnson said the country would be in “a very different situation” than it was last summer, when disease levels were lowered but there was no vaccine.
He said, “We always knew it had the ability to rise back up in the fall and winter months, as it actually does.”
“This time, as we move into the second half of the year, we will have the confidence to know that a large section of the UK public – especially the most vulnerable – has been vaccinated and likely received very high levels of immunity.
“That will change our attitude towards autumn and winter a lot – highly infectious respiratory diseases don’t all go away together, at least not that easily.”
He said coronavirus infection rates remain “alarmingly high” and warned that even those who received their second dose of the vaccine must adhere to the rules of social distancing.
Ten million people have now received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.