The COVID Recovery Group (CRG), a group of Tory MPs who are sceptical about lockdown measures, said on Saturday that they welcomed “the tremendous pace of the vaccination rollout” and that the restrictions will no longer be justified once the high-risk groups have been protected by COVID-19 vaccines.
“Covid is a serious disease and we must control it. However, just like Covid, lockdowns and restrictions cause immense social and health damage and have a huge impact on people’s livelihoods,” said the letter organised by CRG Chair Mark Harper and Deputy Chair Steve Baker, and signed by 63 Conservative MPs.
63 Conservative MPs sign our letter to the PM 👇
👉 Vaccine = immunity from lockdowns & restrictions
👉 All pupils back in school 8 March
👉 Hospitality open by Easter
— Mark Harper (@Mark_J_Harper) February 13, 2021
“The vaccine gives us immunity from Covid but it must also give us permanent immunity from Covid-related lockdowns and restrictions,” they said.
By March 8, the government’s top four risk groups, accounting for 88 percent of deaths and 55 percent of hospitalisations, will have been protected by vaccines, the letter said.
“All restrictions remaining after March 8 should be proportionate to the ever-increasing number of people we have protected,” said the lawmakers.
“The burden is on ministers to demonstrate the evidence of effectiveness and proportionality with a cost-benefit analysis for each restriction, and a roadmap for when they will be removed.”
The lawmakers said “there is no justification for any legislative restrictions to remain” by the end of April, when all nine priority groups accounting for 99 percent of deaths and about 80 percent of hospitalisations have been protected.
They said that the emergence of new variants of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus should not delay the easing of lockdowns because, “as vaccinologists have made clear and ministers have agreed, the vaccine protects against death and hospitalisation” even from the new strains.
Johnson said on Saturday he was optimistic he could announce the easing of some lockdown measures soon as the government nears its target of offering vaccines to 15 million people in priority groups, but also said “we have to be cautious.”
He said reopening schools remains a priority, with the hope they can return by March 8.
But the CRG letter demanded that “the reopening of all schools to all pupils must be achieved by March 8.”
“Every hour of classroom learning lost harms the nation’s children and the schools shutdown is having a huge impact on children’s health and welfare,” they said.
The government is being “cautious and careful” because “you can’t get ahead of the evidence of the impact of the vaccine on the transmission,” he told the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” on Sunday.
Reuters contributed to this report.