Lockdown measures will need to be lifted with “caution” and led by data, the Government’s chief scientific adviser has said.
Sir Patrick Vallance said it will be “crucial” to establish the trajectory of the Covid-19 outbreak and to “not jump ahead of it” as cases could rise again quickly.
His views were echoed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said businesses would want a “measured approach” to lifting the lockdown to avoid a new one.
Mr Johnson has named February 22 as the date the Government will publish its “road map” for the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.
But Sir Patrick told a Downing Street press briefing on Wednesday: “There will be a significant number of people in high-risk groups who haven’t yet been vaccinated.
“Those people remain at risk, and so it’s important we go cautiously in opening up in order to be able to measure the effects.
“One of the things that is really crucial in this is to get enough information to know the trajectory we are on and to not jump ahead of it. Because we are at very high levels and that can take off very quickly.
“The virus isn’t going to be particularly interested in dates.”
The current lockdown was introduced across the whole of the UK on January 4.
Mr Johnson said: “What businesses up and down the country are going to want is a cautious and measured approach that is pragmatic and one we don’t have to retreat from or reverse.”
Earlier in February, Conservative MPs on the Covid Recovery Group called on the Government to outline plans for when restrictions will be lifted.
A further 1,001 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, bringing the official UK death toll to 114,851.