Minister ‘confident’ govt right to lift most COVID rules in England – as public warned virus ‘hasn’t gone away’
A senior minister has told Sky News he is “confident” the government is doing the right thing by lifting almost all coronavirus restrictions in England, as a top World Health Organization (WHO) envoy warned: “This virus hasn’t gone away.”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said now is “as good a time as any” to lift most COVID-19 rules, although he urged people to remain “careful” and “vigilant”.
Critics of the government’s approach have accused ministers of being reckless in going ahead with today’s easing, in the face of daily case numbers hitting their highest level in six months and the continuing spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
But with two-thirds of adults fully vaccinated, proponents of proceeding with step four of the government’s roadmap argue the success of the UK’s vaccine rollout means hospitalisations and deaths will be lower than in previous waves.
Mr Zahawi said it was an “important step forward”, adding: “There is no perfect time to take this step, this is as good a time as any as [Professor] Chris Whitty has said, with the summer holidays and schools being out, which will hopefully bear down on the R number, the transition rate.