Lockdown roadmap should be sped up if Covid infections continue to plunge, says top expert

Lockdown roadmap should be sped up if Covid infections continue to plunge, says top expert

February 28, 2021

THE lockdown roadmap should be sped up if Covid infections continue to plunge, a top expert says.

Boris Johnson has ruled out bringing forward any dates in the four-step plan with all of lockdown due to be eased by June 21.

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But Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, believes the roadmap should be accelerated if things are going well.

He told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "I think it’s very clear that if things move more quickly, more positively than expected, if we have a very high fraction of people vaccinated and very low levels of infection, then yes it should be sped up.

"There’s no need to stick to a date if things go better than expected.

"Every month, every week of additional lockdown is costing not just the economy, it’s costing so many people so much in terms of their mental health, their education, their work and everything else that it should be moved as quickly as is possible consistent with doing it safely.

"And so if we can do it quicker, we absolutely should.”

Boris this week insisted lockdown will not be eased any earlier than his roadmap plans despite demands from MPs and other sectors to speed it up.

The PM vowed his timetable was "sensible" and cautious but also irreversible, and the plan provided some certainty for everyone.

He has repeatedly slapped down scientists and MPs demanding he go faster.

His defiance was backed today by Rishi Sunak, who said the dates will not be moved.

The Chancellor told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "What we want is a cautious but irreversible approach. That's why we've taken the approach that we have and those will be the earliest dates that we think we can do the various things we've laid out.

"But we're doing everything we can to make sure that it is hopefully irreversible, that's what we want to see."

Rishi, who is unveiling his budget this week, said businesses don't want a "stop-start approach".

He added: "We've given the earliest of dates to give a sense of timing and a sense of direction and then obviously we might have to adjust those if things are not going exactly as we would like, but look the early signs are promising.

"We're seeing great news with the rollout of the vaccine, not just the take-up of it but also the efficacy of the vaccine, the data that we're getting is showing us that it is working, so I think that should give us all a sense of confidence and optimism about the future that we can make progress on that roadmap and hopefully slowly get our lives back to normal."

The first step on Boris' roadmap will begin on March 8 with schools reopening and Brits able to meet one other person outside for a picnic.

From the end of the month, outdoor sport will restart and people can meet in groups of six outside – with the 'stay at home' message binned.

Then in April, hairdressers, gyms and shops will open, followed by all indoor activities like cinemas and bowling alleys returning in May.

Pubs can serve outside from April and inside from May with all restrictions hopefully lifted by June 21.


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