BRITS won’t be plunged back into lockdown again this winter, a Cabinet minister vowed today.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted he would “rule out” the return of harsh restrictions on travel and our daily lives.
He said talk of a shutdown is “completely unhelpful” and people should look forward to events like Christmas parties “as usual” this year.
But he also admitted the Government is “concerned about” rising cases, hospitalisations, and deaths.
Asked about calls from some scientists for another lockdown, he said: “I would rule that out. I absolutely think it would be completely wrong.
“Throughout this process there have been people saying the lockdown was unnecessary and other people saying we should continue the lockdown.
“We’ve really plotted a path between those two extremes and it has worked.”
It came as…
Mr Kwarteng added: “What we want to do is manage the situation as it is. We don’t want to go back into lockdown or into further restrictions.
“We just want to keep going, keep the economy going, keep people, getting back to normal life.
“We’ve had our lock downs, we’ve managed to reopen the economy, and I don’t want to revert back.”
The Business Sec said the vaccine rollout has “changed our total approach” to restrictions and urged everyone to come forward for booster jabs.
He revealed Government scientists are looking at fresh data “hour by hour”.
‘Much better situation’
But he said they don’t yet feel there’s a need to trigger Plan B, which would bring in face masks, working from home, and vaccine passports.
He added: “There was always going be a risk the infection rates would go up as we opened up the economy.
“Of course there is the risk of greater infections, but the critical thing is looking at the hospitalisation and sadly death rates.
“And those compared to where we were just in January are much much lower.
“It’s still a difficult situation but it’s a much much better situation than it was just 4/5 months ago when we were still in the middle of a lockdown.”
Mr Kwarteng said all over-50s should come forward for their booster jab now and not wait to be called up by the NHS.
His remarks came amid concern over the slow rollout of top-up shots and reports that many walk-in centres are now empty.
I absolutely think that it would be completely wrong for us to go back into a lockdown
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng
He said: “We’ve got to increase take up of the booster jab. I think that’s really important.”
The senior minister also said it’s a “good thing” for people to wear masks in public places but “people should do what they feel is the right thing to do”.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS, urged the Government to bring back some restrictions like mask wearing.
His plea came as Covid deaths rose to their highest daily level since early March, while cases are at their highest for almost three months.
Mr Taylor said the NHS is preparing for what could be “the most challenging winter on record”.
He urged the public to “show extra support for the NHS” by “behaving in ways that will keep themselves and others safe”.
He added: “It is time for the Government to enact Plan B of its strategy without delay because without pre-emptive action, we risk stumbling into a winter crisis.
“Also, health leaders need to understand what a ‘Plan C’ would entail if these measures are insufficient.
“The Government should not wait for Covid infections to rocket and for NHS pressures to be sky high before the panic alarm is sounded.”