The Prime Minister will hold a press conference at Downing Street today as lockdown continues.

It is expected Boris Johnson will discuss the restrictions after a further 1,290 deaths were reported on Thursday.

Experts modelling the pandemic suggested there could be a huge surge in cases if restrictions were lifted too early.

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But the Government's caution in announcing a timetable to ease the lockdown has sparked fears in the hospitality industry that ministers could be preparing to tell pubs and restaurants to keep their doors closed until May.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News that lockdown would end when more people have been vaccinated.

The Government is aiming to have vaccinated all the most vulnerable by next month.

Mr Eustice said: "We need everybody to play their part, to abide by the restrictions we have got in place to limit the spread of this virus.

"And, yes, that does mean we have to intervene, sometimes in quite a draconian way and issue penalties, and we make no apology for doing that because you can see the impacts of this virus spreading."

He added: "The lockdown will end once we have made further progress on rolling out the vaccines.

"Just shy of five million people have been vaccinated, as of yesterday."

Meanwhile, arrivals from Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo are to be banned as the UK looks to prevent the South African Covid-19 variant from taking hold.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the ban on entering the country from the two African nations, which will not apply to returning British and Irish nationals and those with residency rights, will come into force from 4am on Friday.

The decision comes after UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned this week that coronavirus variants were a "real issue of concern" due to suggestions the vaccines currently being rolled out may be less effective against the South African variant, known as 501Y.V2.

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A similar travel ban was put into place for South Africa last month, and later neighbouring nations after scientists identified the variant.

Since December 23, entry has been banned for people arriving from South Africa, apart from British nationals or residents who have been subject to an isolation period.

On January 9, the same rules were applied to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique and Angola, as well as Seychelles and Mauritius.