Matt Hancock dashes early lockdown hope and says UK will not reopen sooner than June 21

Matt Hancock says social distancing may become ‘social norm’

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Matt Hancock confirmed the Government would not consider taking the UK out of lockdown quicker if the modelling and vaccine programme were more successful than first believed. Mr Hancock explained the new roadmap would look at each stage every five weeks and review whether restrictions could be lifted if it was believed the numbers of deaths and cases were falling. The Government has faced calls from industry bosses, especially from the hospitality and gym sector, to provide support or quicker lockdown easing as their businesses have been severely damaged by the pandemic. 

Speaking to Times Radio, Mr Hancock was asked if the Government would consider restrictions being lifted early. 

He was quizzed in response to SAGE Professor Mark Woolhouse who said that some measures could be lifted now.

The Health Secretary replied: “No, we need to see the effects of each step, and that takes five weeks.”

Mr Hancock also revealed that the Government is aiming to treat COVID-19 like the flu where the disease becomes something the world has to deal with. 

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Mr Hancock was quizzed whether he believed specific measures would be here to stay which he said it was likely to see masks remain. 

However, the Conservative minister did not want to keep social distancing in place and would push to remove the laws where he could. 

Host Stig Abell then asked Mr Hancock if he would be going on holiday after the lockdown to which he replied he would be going to Suffolk. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of lockdown on Monday and set June 21 as the earliest end date. 

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Mr Johnson explained the country would reopen in stages that are set out in five-week intervals as that is the time necessary to analyse the restriction effects. 

The aim is to review the effect of lockdown easing and whether it has an effect on deaths and cases. 

The Government hopes that if the numbers go down they can lift more restrictions and continue through the stages. 

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From March 8, schools will reopen to all pupils and two people can meet outside in a public place. 

The rule of six will return on March 29 and two households of any number can also meet – outdoor sport will also return. 

Hospitality businesses will have to wait until May 17 at the earliest to reopen indoors and outdoors. 

Phase two of the vaccination programme is underway and will vaccinate four new priority groups over over-50s and anyone who has underlying health conditions. 

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