Having called for a long term plan and the easing of restrictions, I am delighted that the Prime Minister has today set out the blueprint for our roadmap to recovery, and the criteria we will need to assess in order for restrictions to be lifted, and within the coming weeks this will be published in more detail.
In his statement to the Commons, the PM set out that future decisions must be made based on hospitalisation and fatality figures, progress of the vaccination programme and any new strains of the virus. The Government expects to have enough data by the third week of the impact of the vaccination rollout and current lockdown, and has committed to set out its plan for the easing of covid restrictions to Parliament in the third week of February.
I have been working closely with local schools and colleges and they have made clear that while they are keen to have all students return, they need time to plan for any change. The Prime Minister made clear that the first priority when easing restrictions will be the reopening of schools for on site learning, with the aim of schools reopening from 8 March if the data supports this. Of course I am disappointed that this is not sooner, and I know that many of my constituents will share my disappointment. I will continue to push for schools to reopen fully sooner if possible, but I am glad that we now have a clear date to work towards.
The Government has promised a plan which will set out a gradual and phased approach to easing the restrictions in a sustainable way. I will continue to work with residents, schools, and businesses, as well as parliamentary colleagues and Ministers, to ensure this roadmap can offer some certainty to the many families, jobs and businesses affected, and allow them to begin to plan for the future post-covid.