Addressing the Home of Commons, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed the latest plans for Covid restrictions.
Aware of the pressures facing parents, who are “balancing the demands” of working from home and their children’s education, Johnson called on the public to “honour” those who had died from covid.
“Too many are coping with the anxiety of illness or the tragedy of bereavement,” he said. Johnson promised that restrictions would not continue “a day longer than is necessary” but neither could they be relaxed too soon.
Johnson hailed the success of the UK’s vaccination program. 6.8 million people have been vaccinated, over 13% of the adult population and three quarters of those in care homes.
Johnson detailed further restrictions on travel from the 22 countries where new variants of the virus were found.
For travellers who cannot be refused entry into the UK will be taken straight from their point of entry to quarantine hotels where they will need to isolate “without exception” for 10 days.
With insufficient data available, Johnson said that the “overall picture” would be clearer by mid February.
Schools will not open before the February half-term. Depending on whether vaccination targets are met, Johnson said, he hoped it “will therefore be safe to begin the opening of schools for Monday 8 March.” However, free school meals will continue to be provided for those children eligible to receive them.
He concluded his statement, by saying: “Our goal now must be to buy the extra weeks we need to immunise the vulnerable and get this virus under control.”
Before the announcement, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon criticised the latest measures after a call between the leaders of the four nations.
She was “concerned that the proposals does not go far enough”.
“We perhaps should have done more at an earlier stage to restrict travel across our borders,” she went on.