No 10 tries to clarify Boris Johnson's position on relaxing lockdown in February

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus - Credit: PA

Downing Street has attempted to clarify Boris Johnson's remarks after he said the government will be “looking at the potential of relaxing some measures” before mid-February.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to a vaccination site at Barnet Football Club in north London, Johnson said ministers were looking at infection rates and progress in vaccinating the top priority groups, which are expected to be completed by mid-February.

“But before then we’ll be looking at the potential of relaxing some measures,” he said.

Downing Street aides insisted Johnson meant February 15 was the earliest point at which any of the rules could be changed, not before.

The prime minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “We continue to keep the latest scientific evidence and data under review, and it remains the case that we want to ease restrictions when it is safe to do so.

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“The prime minister was just making clear that, as I just said, we continue to look at the latest evidence in terms of the transmission of the virus, the number of people hospitalised, and the number of people who sadly go on to die.

“And he was making the point that ahead of February 15, which as you know is the review point, we will look at that evidence closely, and that will inform what we may or may not be able to ease from the 15th onwards.”

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The spokesman said that in advance of February 15 the government would look at the latest scientific evidence and data, though the 15th will be the “point where we review the national lockdown restrictions”.

He added: “It has always been our intention to ease restrictions where we can from that point on the 15th, and schools are obviously our top priority.”

Johnson’s comments came as he faced pressure from senior Tories to allow pupils to return to class.

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