BORIS JOHNSON has quietly given the go ahead for coronavirus lockdown laws to be extended, it is claimed.
The new extension will allow local councils in England to enforce the closure of pubs, restaurants, shops and public spaces until July 17, according to the Daily Telegraph. The lockdown laws were due to expire last week but now will remain active until the start of the summer school holidays. The newspaper said changes have been made to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No.3) Regulations 2020 during a review of the third lockdown by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
It appears to be a tacit acknowledgement that the strict lockdown will continue for many more weeks yet.
When the Prime Minister announced the third lockdown in England at the start of January, he said that the situation would be reviewed in mid-February.
However, during a visit to flood stricken Didsbury in Greater Manchester last week, Mr Johnson appeared to cast doubt that lockdown restrictions would be eased any time soon.
He told reporters: “I think it’s too early to say when we’ll be able to lift some of the restrictions.”
Asked about the mid-February target, he said: “We’ll look then at how we’re doing but I think what we’re seeing in the ONS [Office for National Statistics] data, in the React survey, we’re seeing the contagiousness of the new variant that we saw arrive just before Christmas – there’s no doubt it does spread very fast indeed.
“It’s not more deadly but it is much more contagious and the numbers are very great.”
Over the past few months three new strains of the coronavirus have been detected in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.
The new Covid strains are many times more contagious than the old strain, and are spreading at alarming rates around the world.
The UK variant B117 was first detected in Kent back in September and has been blamed for the recent huge surge in Covid infections in country.
To date the UK has recorded more than 3.5 million Covid-19 cases, the fifth highest in the world.
Tragically, nearly 96,000 people have lost their lives to the deadly virus.
Mr Johnson’s comments brought a robust response from some Tory backbenchers
The Covid Recovery Group said the Prime Minister “must start easing the restrictions” by early March if vaccination targets were achieved.