New Covid restrictions unlikely as daily cases fall, ministers signal

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While total numbers of Covid patients in hospital have continued to climb, rising by 536 to 13,151, the rate of increase has slowed significantly in recent days, figures for England show. Rises of 4.2 per cent and 1.7 per cent in the last two days compare with daily jumps of 13 per cent in the days after Christmas.

Government sources told The Telegraph last week that they were not expecting to repeal any of the Plan B restrictions yet, with adults in England set to be told to continue working from home if possible. The measures are set to roll over to the next review point on Jan 26.

Senior Tories on Sunday said Plan B must not become a new normal, warning Mr Johnson that the Government must push to “get back to Plan A”.

Bob Blackman, a Tory MP on the executive of the 1922 committee, told The Telegraph: “One of the issues is going to be can you get this new variant multiple times? And what is the length of time between getting it, shaking it off, and getting it again?

“What is very clear is that we have to learn to live with it, in the same way as we have come to live with the common cold or flu. We can’t continue in a position whereby we stop our normal way of life because some people have not been vaccinated.

“That is going to be a tough message, and I’m against compulsory vaccination, but I don’t see that it’s reasonable to disrupt people’s lives.”

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, a senior Tory who is the treasurer of the 1922 committee, said: “We do need a long term plan. How are we going to live our lives normally? We cannot have a situation where, every new variant that comes along, we shut down sectors of the economy. Otherwise we will have sectors of the economy that simply won’t exist.

“I would be dead against any further measures, and I do think we need some form of policy to deal with this in the long run.”

The latest daily data shows 73 Covid deaths in England and Wales. 

Bob Seely, a Tory MP, has applied for an emergency debate in Parliament when it returns this week on the use of Covid modelling after a study by Prof Neil Ferguson suggested deaths could reach 4,000 per day this month.

“It doesn’t look as if it is getting anywhere near that,” Mr Seely said. “There have got to be some significant question marks about why the modelling is so wrong, and why effectively the predictions are not working.”

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