By Ben Kerrigan-
The coronavirus lockdown restrictions faces an uncertain future, and will remain in place in England for as “long as they are necessary”, the Health Secretary has said.
Matt Hancock told Sky News it was “impossible to know” when restrictions could be eased.
“We will keep the restrictions in place not a moment longer than they are necessary, but we will keep them in place as long as they are necessary,” said Mr Hancock.
“These measures that we have got in place that we hope to be able to lift, and we should be able to lift when we have been able to protect through vaccination those who are vulnerable – right now the vaccination is not in a position to do that.”
His comments come a few days after Priti Patel told brits they had a duty to prevent the lockdown from being prolonged. Hancock’s indication that the lockdown could be indefinite should not be taken literally because an indefinite lockdown, whatever the reasons provided, would make the government completely lose credibility.
Plans to vaccination a large section of society alongside a drug being trialled aimed at limiting the level of deterioration in Covid -19 hospitalisation will have to work at some point.
The Health Secretary added that the vaccination programme was “on track” to deliver the jab to the 14 million most vulnerable people by February 15.
Official figures suggest UK deaths from Covid-19 having passed 81,960.
England’s deputy chief medical officer said that suggestions to extend the ‘two-metre rule’ around social distancing to three metres and mandate the use of face masks outdoors are not needed.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam told LBC: “The question you are asking is whether the new variant is really going to be capable of moving a greater distance, and that doesn’t kind of fit with my biological understanding, because the distance relates to the force of the cough or the sneeze or the respiratory droplet that flies out of you.
“Unless we were saying that the variant makes you cough in a different way or cough more violently, I can’t see how you can gain that extra distance, like in the long jump as it were.
“If you breach those safety distances the chances of you picking it up are higher”
Mr Hancock also revealed the NHS is considering plans to move some patients into hotels to ease pressure on hospitals.
Mr Hancock told Sky News: “There are huge pressures on the NHS and we are looking to all different ways that we can relieve those pressures.
“We would only ever do that if it was clinically the right thing for somebody. In some cases, people need sit-down care, they don’t actually need to be in hospital bed.
“It isn’t a concrete proposal by any means but it is something that we look at as we look at all contingencies.”