Minister urges 'caution' around June 21 date of lockdown lifting

1 June 2021, 10:36 | Updated: 1 June 2021, 11:00

By Kate Buck

No10 needs to "err on the side of caution" when making decisions around lifting lockdown in England fully on June 21, a minister told LBC this morning.

Small Businesses Minister Paul Scully urged the public to be "careful" and said the vaccine rollout is going to be "what helps us win this race."

Speaking to Nick Ferrari at breakfast on LBC, Mr Scully said: "We do just need to be careful. We need to err on the side of caution.

"But we'll only do that - no decision has been made - but we'll only do that based on the latest and most accurate data."

He said the government will make a decision on lifting lockdown restrictions on 14th June.

"We've got to make sure that we are looking forward to see what happens in the next few weeks and months in terms of the modelling based on the data. What we do know is when case rates go up, hospitalisations go up."

Asked about whether final restrictions should be eased on June 21, Professor Adam Finn, from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, told LBC: "I fear it may be a bad decision to go with it."

READ MORE: Hold off decision on June 21 lockdown lifting, BMA chair urges government

Asked about the businesses which may not survive further delay, he added: "I think they are more likely not to survive if we open up and then shut down again.

"I'm no business person, and shouldn't really be commenting on business, but it seems to me that if we can progressively get back to a place where we're living normally that would be the better thing."

But he added that the final decision to unlock lies with politicians, adding: "Scientists advise but they don't decide, and ultimately the politicians have to carry the can for whatever decisions are made."

READ MORE: Thousands vaccinated as Twickenham Stadium transformed into walk-in Covid jab centre

READ MORE: UK reports one coronavirus-related death and 3,383 new cases

The prime minister has pledged to follow the "data not the dates" when making decisions on the roadmap out of lockdown. Ministers have said that no decision will be made until June 14 - a week before the restrictions are due to be lifted.

It comes after the head of the British Medical Association urged the government to 'hold off' making a decision about ending England's lockdown rules on 21st June.

Concern is growing over how rising cases of the India variant of coronavirus will impact hospital admissions. Ministers want to ensure all over-50s have had both doses of a jab by the planned so-called "freedom-day" next month.

British Medical Association (BMA) council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: "The Government must hold off making a final decision on whether lockdown is fully lifted on June 21 until latest data can be scientifically considered - the Prime Minister had pledged he would be guided by 'data not dates', and it's vital that he now honours this commitment.

"We are at a pivotal moment in battling against the virus in the UK, and with the June 21 date signifying an end to all legal restrictions and allowing normal social mixing of people.

"Yet since the road map was announced, we have seen the emergence of a highly-transmissible new variant and significant escalation of cases - and in the last week a reversal of a downward trend into seeing increases in hospital admissions and deaths. At the same time, we know the second vaccine doses are critical to controlling the spread of the new variant.

"A premature ending of all legal restrictions which then resulted in a surge of infections would undermine our health service's efforts to tackle the biggest level of backlog of care it has ever faced. It would also add further demands on staff who are exhausted, both mentally and physically."