Harper took to Twitter after an article on Sunday in the Telegraph citing an unnamed minister claimed the planned lockdown-easing date of June 21 could be delayed until as late as next spring due to the government’s concern about the spread of Covid-19 variants.
The Forest of Dean MP warned in response that it “would be devastating for business confidence, people’s livelihoods and wellbeing” if the reopening were delayed, and would send “a clear message to employers and workers that, when Covid cases increase this (and every) autumn and winter, they cannot rely on Govt to keep our society open.”
“Now that the most vulnerable have been protected with their vaccine doses, we have to learn to live with this virus, rather than endure seasonal on-off lockdowns and restrictions,” Harper argued, noting that Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance has warned that coronavirus mutations “will appear for the rest of time.”
Harper also pointed out that the most vulnerable people in the UK – who account for 99% of Covid-19 deaths and 80% of hospitalisations – will all have been offered two vaccine jabs by June 21, making it safer than ever to reopen.
“We have to learn to live with it,” concluded Harper. “If our very effective vaccines cannot deliver us freedom from restrictions, then nothing ever will.”
The Telegraph reported on Sunday that ministers fear Britain “will have a six-week window to open up in the summer or risk keeping Covid-19 restrictions in place until the spring.”
June 21 was originally planned to be the fourth and final stage of reopening, and would have seen nightclubs reopened and the limits on the number of people who can meet up or attend events removed. It is currently unclear as to whether stage 4 will still go ahead.
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