Tory MPs have warned it will be ‘far fetched’ to expect fully-vaccinated Britons to ‘tolerate’ coronavirus rules in the future amid claims health officials have drawn up a five year plan for winter curbs.
Staff at the Department of Health and Social Care are said to have come up with a contingency plan for the next five winters.
The aim of the document is to stop large waves of Covid-19 infections in the colder months.
Suggested measures include encouraging people to work from home and to resume social distancing, according to The Mirror.
But anti-lockdown Conservative MPs have rubbished the idea of reimposing curbs as they said the success of the vaccination programme should herald a return to normal life.
Staff at the Department of Health and Social Care are said to have come up with a contingency plan for the next five winters which could see social distancing measures reimposed
Lockdown critic and former minister Steve Baker said he does not believe people would put up with restrictions if they have had both doses of a vaccine
Boris Johnson said yesterday that it ‘looks ever clearer’ that the jabs have now ‘broken the link’ between infections and deaths.
The Prime Minister said that while there has been a significant spike in case numbers in recent weeks ‘that is not translating into a big increase in serious illness and death’.
Lockdown critic and former minister Steve Baker said he does not believe people would put up with restrictions if they have had both doses of a vaccine.
He said: ‘It sounds far fetched. I don’t see how the public would tolerate long term future lockdowns, especially with everyone vaccinated with two doses.’
Health officials are said to believe that the winter plan could help to avoid the need for another full lockdown.
They were reportedly angered by comments made by the new Health Secretary Sajid Javid earlier this week when he said there will be ‘no going back’ once restrictions are lifted on July 19.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said that if officials and ministers are ‘drawing up a winter restriction plan then the Health Secretary should share it with the public’.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘We do not recognise this story and do not know where it has come from.’
It comes after Chris Whitty told Cabinet that the winter period will be ‘difficult’ as he supported pressing ahead with ‘freedom day’ on July 19.
A Cabinet source said: ‘The view among the scientists was that we should get as much open this summer as possible before winter, which will be much more difficult. It was very encouraging.’
The Government has already announced plans for a coronavirus booster jab programme from September which will see millions of the most vulnerable people in the UK offered a third dose.
Ministers hope the vaccines will be able to do the heavy-lifting after ‘freedom day’, keeping hospitalisations and deaths low once rules are eased.
Mr Johnson said yesterday that he believes the nation is now in the ‘final furlong’ of restrictions.
There are growing fears among Tory MPs that the taste of freedom could prove short-lived if cases continue to surge. A further 27,989 cases were recorded yesterday – the highest daily figure since January 22
‘We have to look very carefully at the data and at the moment what we are certainly seeing is a big increase in cases – 26,000 as you will have seen,’ he said.
‘But that is not translating into a big increase in serious illness and death.
‘So, it looks ever clearer that we have broken, the vaccination programme, the speed of that vaccine rollout, has broken that link between infection and mortality and that is an amazing thing.
‘That gives us the scope we think on the 19th to go ahead, cautiously, irreversibly, to go ahead.’
However, Mr Johnson did suggest that some rules or guidance could remain in place beyond ‘freedom day’.
He said the aim is to ‘try to get back to life as close to it was before Covid but there may be some things we have to do and some extra precautions that we have to take’.