Great Britain

Tory MPs demand Boris Johnson publishes plan to end lockdown from March 8

TORY MPs are heaping pressure on Boris Johnson to lay out plans now for an easing of the national lockdown from March 8.

Members of the influential Covid Recovery Group want the PM to give people and businesses hope by committing early to a roll back of restrictions as soon as he can.

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They have earmarked mid-March as the moment when the protective effect of mass vaccinations is projected to kick in.

Scientists have concluded people develop a high level of immunity from the virus around three weeks after receiving their first jab.

No 10 has pledged to vaccinate the 13 million most vulnerable Brits, including the over 70s and care home residents, by February 15.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that should lead to a whopping 88 per cent reduction in Coronavirus deaths.

Steve Baker, the deputy chairman of the CRG, insisted that meant ministers should be able to relax parts of the national lockdown just after that point.

He told the Telegraph: "It is not sustainable to leave the public and British businesses languishing any longer.

"Businesses and individuals desperately need hope and the opportunity to plan our recovery. We need to know our road to recovery as soon as possible."

Mr Baker said the reopening of society must be done in a "proportionate and safe" way bearing in mind "the harm the disease is capable of causing".

But he insisted when the most vulnerable have high levels of protection "this clearly implies we should be removing the vast majority of restrictions".

Ministers are eyeing up March to relax rules - but haven't set any dates in stone just yet.

Mark Harper, the CRG chairman and an ex Government whip, also urged the PM to drop some of the harsher restrictions.

He said "nobody is expecting nightclub doors to be flung open on March 8" and backed No 10's plan for a "gradual unwrapping" of the lockdown.

And he called for a "definitive plan to be published ahead of February 15" for the "progressive lifting of restrictions".

Ministers are already looking at a regional approach to lifting lockdown restrictions on schools.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries told MPs today it was "likely" some areas would be allowed to reopen classrooms before others.

Earlier today Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said it was "too early" to start planning the relaxing of measures.

He said the PM hopes things will start to return "to some form of normality" in March.

But he warned: "We have to make those decisions based on the medical advice we are getting.

"Right now in early January I can't say to you today what the situation will be in three, four, let alone six or eight weeks' time."

The PM’s spokesman said: “The vaccine is the way out of this and as soon as we can we will look to ease restrictions.”

A Government source added: "It's far too early to be setting dates for when restrictions will be lifted."

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