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Lockdown easing plan hopefully ‘irreversible,’ says Hancock – follow live

Chris Whitty calls on public to stick to the rules as lockdown eases

The government hopes Boris Johnson’s road to an “incomparably” different summer through easing lockdown restrictions will prove “irreversible”, Matt Hancock said following the prime minister’s announcement.

Placing responsibility for the success of the plan in part on the public, the health secretary Sky News: “It’s on everyone … this isn’t just about choices the government makes, it’s important we stick to the existing rules.”

Meanwhile, business leaders warned financial support is “imperative” if the hospitality and entertainment sectors are to survive as restrictions are lifted.

Pub chiefs have said it will be “very difficult, if not impossible” to trade profitably once sites reopen in April under new rules allowing venues to serve customers outside.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry representatives UKHospitality, said the sector was “obviously devastated its reopening will be so far away” and that a major package of financial support was “imperative if hospitality is to survive”, while others urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to include measures in next week’s Budget.

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Scotland lockdown: What time is Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement today?

Nicola Sturgeon will later set out more detailed plans for the lifting of Scotland’s lockdown restrictions as new cases and deaths continue to fall and pressure on NHS hospitals and staff eases.

The first minister is expected to address the Scottish parliament at around 2:15pm today.

For more on what to expect from Ms Sturgeon’s announcement, here’s Matt Mathers:

Liam James23 February 2021 09:36

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Covid roadmap based on ‘dodgy assumptions’, says lockdown-sceptic Tory MP

Mark Harper MP, leader of the Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, has claimed the the government’s lockdown easing plan is based on “dodgy assumptions”, particularly over vaccine uptake among the public.

Noting analysis for the government estimating 91,300 more people could die if restrictions were lifted at the end of April, the date by which Mr Harper suggested restrictions would no longer be needed due to mass vaccination, LBC host Nick Ferrari asked: “Why would you want to go faster?”

Mr Harper replied: “The government seems to have looked at some models with dodgy assumptions and have effectively delayed opening the country by two months.”

He claimed the “biggest flaw” in the government’s plan was they assumed 15 per cent of the country would not take the vaccine.

Boris Johnson said on Monday that a “significant minority” of people would have refused a vaccine, which could allow the disease to “rip through those groups”.

Liam James23 February 2021 09:20

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Care home staff could require proof of vaccination to stay in their jobs, Matt Hancock says

Care home staff could require proof of vaccination to carry on in their jobs, Matt Hancock said after Boris Johnson announced a surprise inquiry into so-called ‘Covid status certificates’ . The health secretary acknowledged vaccination could become compulsory, saying: “We’re not at that point yet. And I think it’s important that we do we take all of the points of view into consideration.”

Mr Hancock pointed out that Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, had already said he regarded accepting a jab “as a professional duty”, adding: “I want staff in the NHS and care homes to be vaccinated.

Our Deputy Political Editor Rob Merrick has more on this:

Liam James23 February 2021 08:54

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Financial support is ‘imperative if hospitality is to survive’

Business leaders warned financial support is “imperative” if the hospitality and entertainment sectors are to survive as restrictions are lifted to allow their partial-reopening.

Jonathan Neame – boss of Shepherd Neame brewery, which owns more than 300 pubs – welcomed the plan for a full reopening in June, but warned it will be “almost impossible” for the sector to be profitable with only outdoor opening in April. Others said indoor opening in April would have been preferred.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry representatives UKHospitality, said the sector was “obviously devastated its reopening will be so far away” and that a major package of financial support was “imperative if hospitality is to survive”, while others urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to include measures in next week’s Budget.

Read more on this from Chiara Giordano here:

Liam James23 February 2021 08:38

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Government hopes roadmap ‘irreversible’, says Hancock

The government hopes the plan for lifting lockdown restrictions will be “irreversible”, the health secretary said this morning.

He said the aim was to turn away from social distancing laws and put the responsibility on individuals, adding that some form of vaccination programme is likely to become a “regular feature” of life in the future.

“What we want to do is get rid of the social distancing-type laws that get in the way of normal life and move to personal responsibility, rather than laws dictating how all of us live our daily lives,” he told Times Radio.

“But, it is also clear that eradication is unfortunately not possible with this disease, so we are going to have to learn to live with it.”

Liam James23 February 2021 08:21

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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

Liam James23 February 2021 08:10


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