Senior Conservative backbenchers have urged Boris Johnson to allow Covid-safe weddings to resume from March 8 before permitting unrestricted ceremonies from May 1.
Thirteen MPs, including 1922 committee chairman Sir Graham Brady, Covid Recovery Group vice-chairman Steve Baker and ex-minister Tim Loughton, have backed a campaign seeking to pressure the Prime Minister as he considers his plan to ease restrictions.
Former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey said: “Vaccinating the top nine risk groups will prevent around 99% of deaths from Covid and around 80% of hospital admissions.
“That should be a huge moment for the UK to hold its head up high, for couples to walk down the aisle, and for families up and down the country to reunite, to celebrate and to plan their futures.”
Tory MPs have also urged Johnson to ensure his timetable for schools does not slip, despite warnings from senior scientists about the dangers still posed by coronavirus.
In order to meet the government’s promise of giving teachers, pupils and parents a fortnight to prepare for reopening, Johnson will have to set out his plans on February 22.
But Downing Street would only commit to saying Johnson will set out his road-map out of the lockdown that week – rather than specifically on the 22nd.
Former minister Baker said: “Having a full public debate is essential at this time but I fear senior scientists are failing to recognise their power to spread despair and despondency.”
He added: “I look forward to the prime minister’s February 22 roadmap out of restrictions so that we can all reclaim our lives once and for all.”
Wellcome Trust director Sir Jeremy Farrar suggested daily infections needed to fall dramatically before any such move could be considered.
“Transmission is still incredibly high in the UK. If transmission were still at this level and we were not in lockdown, we would be going into lockdown,” he told the BBC.
His comments came after another Sage member, Professor John Edmunds, said “we will have to be under some kind of restrictions for some time” until adults had received two vaccine doses.