Tory MPs press for faster unlocking in England after Welsh Government bring key dates forward
Conservative MPs are putting pressure on Boris Johnson to accelerate England’s lockdown reopening plan after Mark Drakeford did so in Wales.
The First Minister announced on Thursday that some Covid-19 restrictions in Wales will be relaxed sooner than expected.
Conservative MPs told the i newspaper that they now wanted to see the UK Government follow in his footsteps. It said that dozens of Conservative backbenchers were now campaigning for the UK Government to be less cautious in its roadmap for England.
“I think after Monday it’s going to be a very long five weeks to May,” Sir Robert Syms, the Tory MP for Poole, told the newspaper.
“When the data is looking so good, I think a speed-up would be very low risk. I hope the Government bring forward the May date – even a few weeks would help business and jobs.”
The Prime Minister and his scientific advisers have however said that there must be at least five weeks between each step of the roadmap, to give time for any rise in infections to show through clearly in the official data.
In announcing the changes in Wales, the First Minister, Mark Drakeford said: “The public health situation in Wales continues to improve thanks to everything you are doing to help us control this awful virus. Cases of the virus are falling and our incredible vaccination programme continues to go from strength to strength.
In Wales, people will be able to form an extended household, visit the gym or take part in organised outdoor activities a week earlier than planned, as cases of new infections continue to fall across Wales, and vaccination rates increase.
The First Minister says the planned opening date for organised outdoor activities and outdoor wedding receptions will be moved forward to Monday 26 April from 3 May.
And, from Monday 3 May, a week earlier than previously signalled, gyms, leisure centres and fitness facilities will be able to reopen for individual or one-to-one training. Extended households will also be allowed again, enabling two households to meet and have contact indoors.
The measures are being introduced sooner than planned because cases have fallen markedly from 37 cases per 100,000 people to fewer than 21 per 100,000 this week.
The pressure on hospitals also continues to ease. Confirmed cases in hospital beds continue to reduce, and now stands at 89. This is 26% lower than last Thursday and is the lowest position since 22 September 2020.
“Last week, we set out our programme to further re-open the economy and relax the restrictions we have lived with for so long, as part of our careful, step-by-step approach to keeping everyone safe,” Mark Drakeford said.
“This week, because of the improvements we continue to see, we can bring forward some of our plans.
“This is only possible because of the efforts everyone is making to protect themselves and their loved ones.”