The Cabinet Minister was speaking after Boris Johnson announced a delay at the fourth stage of England’s roadmap COVID-19[feminine[feminine measures, pushing back the hoped-for “Freedom Day” of June 21, amid increasing cases of Delta variant identified for the first time in India.
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Mr Gove said the postponement was “regrettable” but said “what we want to do is make sure that when we make this move we don’t go back”.
“Because the worst thing for business, the worst thing for any of us, would be to open up again and then find very quickly that we have to reimpose restrictions. “
When asked if the restrictions would finally end on July 19, he said that would be the “end date” for COVID measures.
“It would take an unprecedented and remarkable change in the progression of the disease” for that to change, Gove added.
The Prime Minister said at a press conference in Downing Street on Monday that postponing step four would allow more people to receive their second jab before further easing of restrictions, with evidence showing current vaccines deliver a high level of protection against the Indian variant.
The proposed extension will be reviewed to see if action can be taken two weeks earlier on Monday, July 5.
However, Mr Johnson has announced some changes, remove the 30-person limit for weddings starting June 21 as planned and removing the requirement for residents of nursing homes to self-quarantine for 14 days after day trips.
Sir Mark Walport, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies that has advised the government throughout the pandemic, told Sky News the delay was a “reasonable compromise”.
“These are the vaccines that will allow us to live with the virus,” he said.
“Another month will allow a lot more people to get stung and the effect of the first and second jabs to kick in. “
The decision to delay drew criticism from several Tory MPs, with Steve Baker, a member of the COVID Recovery Group (CRG) of Conservative backbench MPs, saying the public must “review true freedom.”
Criticism has also been leveled at the government for putting India on the red list at the end of April, two weeks after neighboring Bangladesh and Pakistan.
But Mr Gove said ministers acted before the Delta strain became a worrying variant and stressed that “you can only act on the basis of the information you have at the time.”