The vaccination programme is well underway – but what does that mean for the lifting of lockdown restrictions?
That’s what York Outer MP Julian Sturdy wanted to know. And he took his question to the top.
Today at Prime Minister’s Questions Mr Sturdy asked Boris Johnson about setting a target for when vaccination of the vulnerable is sufficiently advanced to allow for the easing of restrictions.
Connecting to parliament from his York office by video link, the Conservative MP asked: “With the vaccination programme making very encouraging progress, can the Prime Minister reaffirm that lifting restrictions to return to normal as soon as it is safe is an overriding national priority?
“And can I invite him to consider drawing a line in the sand, in terms of vaccination of sufficient numbers of the priority group, the reaching of which will trigger a phased relaxation of controls as immunity widens?”
The Prime Minister responded: “I can confirm that we are going to go down the top four priority groups, who sadly count for 88% of Covid deaths.
“The target, as he knows, is that by 15 February there will then be an opportunity to look carefully at the measures we have in place.
“We will try to reverse the restrictions as soon as we reasonably can, in a way that does not involve overwhelming the NHS.”
‘Lockdown with a purpose’
Later Mr Sturdy said: “Although ideally I would have liked a more specific commitment to the exact level of vaccination at which we can safely look to relax the extraordinary restraints on everyday life, I welcome Boris’s reaffirmation that the restrictions will be re-examined when the most vulnerable have been vaccinated by mid-February.
“To sustain confidence and compliance with restrictions, I believe it is essential for people to know this is a ‘lockdown with a purpose’, and that continued sacrifices by residents now as the vaccine rolls out will have a direct pay-off through the future safe lifting of Covid measures.
“Amid the grimness of the virus resurgence, it is reassuring that we should be just a month away from removing all our loved ones in groups accounting for 88% of covid mortality from the path of the virus.”