PM Boris Johnson could ease UK lockdown by Easter, say reports
The Prime Minister is said to be working on "top secret" plans to ease the UK's lockdown by Easter.
The plans could see millions of people allowed to see loved ones over the holiday, which falls on April 4.
While the government has outwardly said it's too early to know when the nation's third lockdown will end, Boris Johnson is reported to have tasked No. 10 officials with working on plans to undo the restrictions in time for April.
A senior government source told The Sun: “It’s way too soon to start talking about when, but the work is being done quietly on the how.”
But other government sources told MailOnline that Easter is an optimistic target for easing the lockdown, particularly if problems are encountered with the roll-out of vaccines.
The government has pledged to vaccinate its top four priority groups - comprising care home residents, healthcare workers, those aged over 70, and the clinically extremely vulnerable - by mid-February.
While the UK's infection rates are falling, hospitals remain under pressure, as the nation yesterday recorded its highest daily number of Covid deaths since the beginning of the outbreak, as 1,610 new coronavirus deaths were recorded.
Announcing the third lockdown on January 4, Mr Johnson suggested the measures were expected to be lifted around mid-February.
Senior cabinet minister Michael Gove said at the time that while restrictions would be reviewed on February 15 they would be "progressively" and not suddenly lifted.
He told Sky News: "I think it's right to say that as we enter March we should be able to lift some of these restrictions, but not necessarily all."
This week, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries said it is likely that when schools are reopened, they will do so a region-by-region basis.
Dr Harries said schools in the south-east and London could be among the first to open, as these areas were the first to be affected by the new strain of coronavirus.
Speaking before a meeting of Parliament's education committee, she said: "It’s likely that as we’re hopefully starting to see some glimmers of hope that London has been affected earlier by the new variant, that may move across the country,” Harries told a meeting of Parliament’s education committee.
"It’s likely that we will have some sort of regional separation of interventions."