The nation faces a “very difficult” few weeks, Michael Gove said, and could not provide a firm date for lifting the lockdown.
The senior government official said that when restrictions begin to be eased, March should mark the point.
He added that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson would address the House of Commons on Wednesday to inform MPs on how pupils in England will be evaluated at the end of the year, following further disruption to their learning.
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The Minister of the Cabinet Office told Sky News, “The government is doing everything it can to make sure we can roll out the vaccine faster, help the vulnerable by getting them the vaccinations they need, and make sure that at the end of what will inevitably be a very, very difficult few weeks, life can eventually return to normal.”
We will be able to assess the progress we have made on Feb. 15, just before the typical school semesters, and we hope that after that we will be able to phase out the constraints, but what I can not do is predict – no one can predict – precisely when we will be able to ease and when with precision.
“What we do know is that the more effective our vaccination program is, the more people are protected in this way, the easier it will be to lift these restrictions.”
He added: “We will keep an eye on these constantly, but you are absolutely right, we can not predict with certainty that in the week of February 15-22 we will be able to lift the restrictions.”
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“What we’re going to do is everything we can to make sure that as many people as possible are vaccinated so that we can begin to lift gradual restrictions,” she said.
“I think it’s right to say that by March we should be able to lift some of those restrictions, but not necessarily all of them.”
On the subject of schools in England, he said, “The Secretary of Education has spoken to Ofqual, the exam regulator, so that we can find a way to recognize the immense hard work that students across the nation have done this year.”
Labour chief Sir Keir Starmer said that he will support England’s latest national freeze.
“When asked if the new restrictions were what he had in mind on BBC Breakfast Tuesday when he called for another lockdown, Sir Keir said, “Yes, that is what we had in mind and we will support it.