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4 Feb, 2021 09:27

Economy could reopen ‘gradually’ in March, says UK vaccines minister, but only if Covid-19 cases keep falling

Economy could reopen ‘gradually’ in March, says UK vaccines minister, but only if Covid-19 cases keep falling

Britain’s vaccine minister has warned that the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions is reliant on further positive data showing case numbers falling, but said the economy could start reopening in March.

Speaking on Thursday, Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News that hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19 “remain far too high” and are at a “grim” level, but claims the government’s data suggest that restrictions may be eased in March. 

“Mid-February, if you add another three weeks to that when the vaccine protection really does begin to kick in, you’re at the first week of March,” Zahawi noted.

“So that’s when we will begin to first-of-all open schools and then begin a gradual reopening of the economy, if we continue to see good data.”

The minister added that the vaccination programme was progressing well, confirming that every care home in the country had been offered the jab by last weekend and that the total number of people inoculated had hit 10 million on Wednesday. 

Also on rt.com Number of UK Covid-19 infections ‘still alarmingly high,’ but schools likely to reopen next month – PM

On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that schools would return to classroom learning on March 8, despite admitting that the National Health Service was still “under huge pressure.” 

The Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is concerned that the UK’s scientific advisers were "moving the goalposts" to extend lockdown.

The paper quoted one source who said: “Rishi is concerned that the scientists have been moving the goalposts in recent weeks. It’s no longer just about hospitalisations and protecting the NHS but cases and case numbers.”

“Now the target seems to be that we need to keep cases down overall, which wasn’t the original aim of the lockdown... The talk has switched to becoming Covid-free.”

The UK has been one of the most afflicted nations in the world from Covid-19, registering more than 3.8 million cases since the start of the pandemic and more than 110,000 deaths.

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