PLANS to lift the Covid lockdown by Easter were canned after Sage scientists warned that it would cause 91,000 more deaths.
A plan to reopen outdoor pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops by the Easter Bank Holiday weekend was reportedly considered.
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However, the date was pushed back after experts reportedly said it would cause up to 91,000 more deaths and overwhelm hospitals with Covid patients, the Daily Mail reported.
A No. 10 source told the Telegraph that the Easter plan was never official government policy.
The source said: “Five different scenarios were modelled, and there was never a preferred outcome.”
Sage scientists reportedly claimed that not taking a gradual approach to easing lockdown would put extreme pressure on the NHS.
They warned that it would lead to nearly 60,000 Covid patients in hospital by June, compared to last month’s high of 39,000.
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance spoke of his support for the gradual approach taken by PM Boris Johnson, saying: “The sooner you open up everything, the higher the risk of a bigger resurgence. The slower you do it, the better.”
THE WAIT ESCAPE
Mr Johnson yesterday set England on a snail-paced return to freedom with Covid restrictions not fully lifted until June 21 at the very earliest.
The PM dismayed many hoping for a return to more normal life, including his own Tory MPs, with an ultra-cautious reopening blueprint.
At a press conference he insisted the extraordinarily successful vaccines program would throw a “shield” round the entire population.
Boris vowed: “There is light ahead, leading us to a spring and the summer, which I think will be seasons of hope, looking and feeling incomparably better for us all and from which we will not go back.”
The blueprint will see pub gardens, hairdressers, gyms and shops shut until April 12 — another 48 days.
Families and friends will have to wait even longer, until May 17, to hug one another or stay overnight in each other’s homes.
And it will be a total of 118 days before we reach June 21 — the earliest date all restrictions will be lifted in what is already being dubbed “independence day”.
Social distancing and masks could still be used for months more and vaccine passports may be required for a full return to normality, as the PM warned we must learn to live with the virus forever.
But he insisted “the end really is in sight” and “a wretched year will soon give way to spring and summer very different to today”.
Warning that he has put “certainty over urgency”, Mr Johnson’s ultra-cautious four-step plan will see restrictions reviewed every five weeks from March 8, with only gradual unlocking at each stage.
Groups of six, or two households of any size, can meet outside from the end of next month, and indoors from May but people are warned not to hug anyone outside their household until after a review of social distancing rules.
Mr Johnson told MPs desperate for a speedier plan he would “not take the risk” of a fourth crippling lockdown but instead “guide us cautiously but irreversibly towards reclaiming our freedoms”.
Speaking earlier in the Commons, the PM said he understood the public’s frustrations at the glacial pace.
He added: “And I sympathise very much with the exhaustion and the stress that people are experiencing and businesses are experiencing… but to them I say the end really is in sight.”