New lockdown restrictions could last until March, warns Michael Gove
The third lockdown could continue throughout all of February
England's third national lockdown could continue into early March, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has admitted.
Boris Johnson announced the return to tighter restrictions on Monday evening as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the country. Although the prime minister suggested the lockdown could end as soon as February 15, Gove admitted that this may not be the case.
"The Government is doing everything it can in order to ensure that we can roll out the vaccine more rapidly, help the vulnerable by getting the inoculations they need and make sure that at the end of what will inevitably be very, very difficult weeks, that life can eventually return to normal," Gove told Sky News on Tuesday morning.
Asked whether the lockdown was likely to last until March, he added: "We will be able to review the progress that we’ve made on February 15, just before the traditional school half-term, and we hope that we will be able to progressively lift restrictions after that but what I can’t do is predict – nobody can predict – with accuracy exactly what we will be able to relax and when.
"What we do know is that the more effective our vaccination programme, the more people who are protected in that way, the easier it will be to lift these restrictions."
"Nobody can predict with accuracy exactly what we will be able to lift and when"
Michael Gove says the government hopes to be able to "progressively lift restrictions" from 15 February, but cannot predict what will be lifted and when
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— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 5, 2021
Monday's announcement saw the prime minister confirm the closure of schools to the majority of children as the government introduced its tightest restrictions since the early weeks of the pandemic last March
A new strand of the virus, believed to be significantly more transmissible, is believed to be behind the sharp increase in new cases. The new restrictions have been brought in to try and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.