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Tony Blair weighs into Covid lockdown debate with ‘traffic light’ plan to ease restrictions in England

Tony Blair has suggested England implement a 'traffic light system' for easing Covid lockdown restrictions - Credit: PA

England should impose a “traffic light system” for re-opening various sectors of the economy, Tony Blair has advised in a report published by his thinktank, the Tony Blair Institute (TBI).

The former Labour prime minister weighed into the lockdown debate by publishing his own plans on how the nations should ease restrictions.

The plan includes a system of red, amber and green alerts depending on the R number and Covid infection level.

This comes ahead of an expected announcement on Monday when Boris Johnson is set to unveil a roadmap out of lockdown.

The Telegraph reports that Blair’s designs include “trigger points” for each of the three coloured bands. These would determine when schools, non-essential retail and hospitality would again re-open.

The plans would vary based on whether or not the R rate was above or below one.

The documents reportedly call for a “clear, comprehensive and consistent plan to optimise health and economic outcomes, and return life to normal as quickly as it is safe to do so”.

It also calls on government to agree to a ‘single clear policy objective’ and to not deviate from it.

Ian Mulheirn, TBI policy director and chief economist, was reported to have said: “Cabinet arguments about whether the ‘goalposts have been moved’ underline the confusion.

“This time they must pick one: whether that be to prevent hospital overload, keep new cases below a given level or ensure case numbers continue to fall.

“While any of these goals is plausible, in practice only a policy of keeping R consistently below 1 is likely to be deliverable.”

The report goes on to argue that a “rigid national approach” would involve “unnecessary economic and social costs”, or cause the virus to rise again.

Restrictions on schools and outdoor recreation are likely to be the first to be lifted in March, reports suggest, followed by essential shops then pubs, restaurants and cafes.