Lockdown end: Boris Johnson told Easter is target date to reopen British economy

Steve Baker calls for Easter reopening of hospitality sector

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Steve Baker, Deputy Chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, argued the Government should follow its advice and open up the country for Easter. He added that the most vulnerable in the country, who account for the most deaths from coronavirus, are forecast to be vaccinated by March meaning the rest of the country should return to normal. It comes amid fears Boris Johnson will reveal his intentions to reopen pubs and restaurants last in moves that echo the last lockdown in a move many have argued would only further cripple the industry.

Speaking to Robert Peston on his ITV show, the host asked what Mr Baker’s preferred timetable would be to reopen the country.  

He said: “The timetable we’ve picked is based very intimately on the Government’s vaccine rollout plan, so that’s the government’s own dates. 

“But what we’ve said is, as people are vaccinated, restrictions should be eased proportionately.”

Mr Peston then asked when Mr Baker would like to see the hospitality industry reopened.

He replied: “I’d like hospitality back for Easter, that is, of course, six weeks away. 

“They need about two weeks to open, the Government could be watching the data for a month and give them two weeks notice to open. 

“Remember Statista is forecasting that by March 24 we’ll have vaccinated those top nine groups.”

A report from Statista analysed the Government’s phase one vaccine rollout and found if the vaccination rates remained the same the next four priority groups would be vaccinated by March 24.

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The report also found that all adults would be vaccinated by May 12 if the rate was continued further. 

Mr Baker continued: “Those cohorts together account for 99 percent of the deaths.” 

Mr Peston added: “For you, the crucial statistics, conditional on the vaccine working in the way that you hope it does, but it’s not the rate of infection it’s the rate of hospitalisation and the rate of death?”

Mr Baker said: “Because everything we’ve done, we’ve tried to tie to expert advice and what ministers have said.


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“So Matt Hancock said very clearly that what mattered was breaking the link between cases hospitalizations and deaths. 

“It’s only recently in the last few days, the Government started talking about cases again, and they need to explain why they’re moving goalposts. 

“It was Matt Hancock who made the tests (about) hospitalizations and deaths.”

Boris Johnson is set to reveal his roadmap out of lockdown on February 22. 

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