The UK well being secretary has refused to rule out the present lockdown restrictions in England being made even harder.
In interviews on Sunday morning, Matt Hancock additionally mentioned he broadly backed the police choice to fine two women who drove 5 miles for a stroll, saying that “each flex [in compliance with lockdown rules] may be deadly”.
Talking on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Present, Hancock was requested whether or not the present guidelines might must be tightened. “I don’t need to speculate as a result of a very powerful message will not be whether or not the federal government will additional strengthen the principles,” he replied. “Crucial factor is that individuals keep at house and comply with the principles that now we have obtained.”
And in a separate interview on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Hancock mentioned the police have been doing a “good job in very troublesome circumstances” and that they have been proper to take the lockdown laws “very severely”.
His feedback have been later echoed by the Labour chief, Keir Starmer, who mentioned the present lockdown restrictions for England “is probably not robust sufficient” and that nurseries “most likely ought to be closed”, though he mentioned he wish to hear the scientific recommendation on this.
Derbyshire police have been extensively criticised when it emerged they’d fined two ladies £200 every for driving 5 miles for a stroll at a reservoir. The ladies have been additionally informed the recent drinks they’d taken may very well be classed as a picnic.
The drive has subsequently mentioned it is reviewing the fines. However when Hancock was requested if the unique police motion was proper, he replied: “Completely I’m going to again the police.
“You would possibly have a look at the principles and suppose, ‘Nicely it doesn’t matter an excessive amount of if I simply do that or do this’. However these guidelines are usually not there as boundaries to be pushed, they’re the restrict of what individuals ought to be doing.”
When requested if that meant it was unlawful to drive someplace to go for a stroll, Hancock mentioned he didn’t know the precise particulars of this case. However he mentioned he thought the police have been implementing the principles sensitively.
Hancock informed the programme the current pressure on the NHS was “very, very dangerous”.
However he mentioned greater than 200,000 individuals have been now being vaccinated each day, and a few third of individuals over the age of 80 had now been vaccinated. He described that as “vital progress” in direction of assembly the federal government’s goal of making certain everybody within the prime 4 precedence teams – care house residents and employees, NHS and care employees, the over-70s and the clinically extraordinarily susceptible – have been provided a jab by 15 February. About 2 million individuals in complete had now been vaccinated, Hancock mentioned.
He mentioned seven mass vaccination centres, at places corresponding to Epsom Downs racecourse, would open this week, with extra to return.
With headteachers saying the variety of dad and mom sending kids into college in England on grounds they’re key employees is much higher now than within the first lockdown, Hancock confirmed that key employees ought to solely ship their kids into class if completely vital.
“Faculties are there for key employees’ kids the place key employees must have the youngsters in class so as to have the ability to get to work,” mentioned Hancock, confirming the message in revised guidance issued by the Department for Education on Friday.
“So as an example if you happen to’re a key employee, and your accomplice doesn’t work, then you definately shouldn’t be sending your kids to highschool.”
Hancock mentioned the federal government anticipated to have the ability to ease restrictions “within the spring”, however he refused to elaborate or spell out precisely when he thought of spring to be over.
However he additionally harassed that regardless that the federal government wished probably the most susceptible individuals to have had their first vaccination by mid-February, vaccines took two or three weeks to develop into efficient, and the federal government would then must see what affect this was having on circumstances and transmission.
Talking on The Andrew Marr Present, Starmer mentioned that, as soon as everybody within the prime 4 precedence teams had been vaccinated, there could be a case for reviewing the opposite 5 precedence teams within the listing drawn up by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and contemplating whether or not individuals like lecturers ought to be included.
At the moment lecturers are usually not included as a bunch, and can solely get vaccinated within the first stage of the method in the event that they qualify underneath one of many 9 classes within the JCVI listing, which covers everybody over the age of fifty, in addition to well being and social care employees and folks with underlying well being situations.
Hancock mentioned he didn’t settle for the declare from Prof Chris Whitty, the federal government’s chief medical adviser, that some restrictions could also be wanted subsequent winter.
Requested if Whitty was proper, Hancock replied: “I actually hope not. I hope that we can deal with this sooner or later by way of a vaccination programme, in the identical manner that we do flu annually.”
Hancock refused to say whether or not he had not too long ago spoken to the previous Labour prime minister Tony Blair, whose thinktank has printed many Covid coverage proposals and who advocated delaying the second dose of vaccine in order that bigger numbers might get a primary dose rapidly – a coverage subsequently adopted by the federal government. Requested if they’d spoken, Hancock simply mentioned he spoke to all kinds of individuals on a regular basis.