The fast-track approval of the coronavirus vaccine means restrictions could be loosened before the end of March, the Health Secretary has said.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Matt Hancock said he “can’t wait to scrap this tiered system altogether” and for the country to “get back to living by mutual respect and personal responsibility, not laws set in Parliament”.
It marks a change in rhetoric and tone from Mr Hancock, who until now has been seen in Whitehall as one of the strongest proponents of the strictest possible measures.
Asked whether the start of administering the vaccine to Britons this week could bring about a quicker end to the restrictions in the first three months of next year, Mr Hancock said: “Yes it will.”
– How do the new Covid tier rules affect me? Everything you need to know
Ninety-nine per cent of England has been placed under tougher Tier 2 and Tier 3 rules, as the country returns to the three-tier system now lockdown has ended.
Under the new rules, non-essential retail, gyms and places of worship can reopen in all tiers, whilst concerts and spectator sports can now take place in Tiers 1 and 2.
The hospitality industry faces the toughest measures under the new system, as pubs and restaurants close to the public in Tier 3 unless operating as takeaways. In Tier 2 areas, such as London and Liverpool, pubs and bars must close unless operating as restaurants that serve substantial meals.