Dominic Raab today admitted that some rules on wearing face masks and social distancing could remain in place beyond the final step in the Government’s lockdown exit roadmap on June 21.
The Foreign Secretary warned ‘there will still need to be some safeguards in place’ after that point in comments which sparked an immediate backlash from Tory MPs and the hospitality industry.
Pub bosses described the comments as a ‘red flag’ and warned firms need ‘certainty’ now on the terms on which they will be allowed to reopen heading into the summer.
Conservative MPs said retaining the wearing of face masks and social distancing in some settings like public transport could be acceptable.
But they argued all restrictions must be lifted on June 21 when it comes to pubs, bars and restaurants as they accused ministers of being ‘hyper cautious’.
Mr Raab this morning rejected calls to speed up the roadmap as he insisted ‘we are very close now to really turning the corner’ in the battle against coronavirus. He suggested the UK is in the ‘last lap’ of the crisis.
The success of the UK’s vaccination programme and falling infection numbers have prompted demands for the Government to bring forward its reopening dates.
But the Foreign Secretary urged people to be patient as he insisted June 21 is not far away and ‘we are nearly there’.
He argued that ‘taking steady steps out of the lockdown is the smart way to go’ to avoid undoing the progress made during the national shutdown.
He also offered a significant incentive to Britons to stick to the current timetable as he promised that on June 21 ‘almost all social restrictions will be lifted’.
Read more: Backlash as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admits masks and social distancing could be kept AFTER June 21: Hospitality bosses warn it is a ‘red flag’ to struggling pubs as they try to reopen and Tory MPs slam ministers for being ‘hyper cautious’ (No – following the Cult script)