PM warns there will be no 'open sesame' lockdown exit

Prime minister Boris Johnson. Pic: Richard Pohle/The Times/PA Wire

Prime minister Boris Johnson. Pic: Richard Pohle/The Times/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The prime minister has warned the eventual easing of lockdown will be "gradual" with no "open sesame" approach.

With the country now in the third full week of national lockdown, prime minister Boris Johnson has warned the country is still in a "pretty precarious" position as ministers continue to discuss how lockdown will be eased.

And Mr Johnson has said there will be no great "open sesame" moment where freedoms are instantaneously restored.

The PM, on a visit to the manufacturing site of the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine, said: "I understand completely that people want to get back to normal as fast as we possibly can. It does depend on things going well.

"It depends on the vaccination programme going well, it depends on there being no new variants that throw our plans out and we have to mitigate against, and it depends on everybody, all of us, remembering that we're not out of the woods yet."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COV

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government would review the rule allowing people to exercise outside with one person from another household 'if too many people keep breaking it'. - Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

These comments were later echoed by health secretary Matt Hancock during an evening press conference.

He said: "We must see the vaccination programme working and that is on track, but we still have a massive effort ahead.

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It comes as 35 additional Covid-related deaths were confirmed across Norfolk's three main hospitals, taking the total number since the start of the pandemic to 900.

Of these, 30 were recorded at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, which has suffered 92 so far in January.

However, the latest figures released by Public Health England do show slows in the rate of infection across all local authority areas in Norfolk and Waveney but one - though these rates are still among the highest they've been since the start of the pandemic.

For the seven days ending January 14, the rate of infection for Norfolk as a whole was 464.6 cases per 100,000 people.

The worst hit area for this period was Norwich, the only area to see a week-on-week increased rate - a rate of 626 compared with 546.3 for the weekend ending January 7.

This also means Norwich's rate of infection is considerably higher than the national average of 504.5. Great Yarmouth (530.5) and Breckland (510.8) also have rates above the national average.

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