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Lockdown is “very likely” to end on June 21 with all coronavirus restrictions axed, a cabinet minister says.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said he “fully expects” it to happen as vaccines are working against the Indian variant.
Pubs can now serve punters indoors and international travel has resumed under the latest stage of easing England’s lockdown, which came into force on Monday.
The final stage of the roadmap out of lockdown, set for June 21, is for all remaining restrictions on social contact to be scrapped, including the reopening of nightclubs.
Fears have been raised that the Indian variant, which it is believed could be more transmissible, could disrupt the roadmap.
But Mr Kwarteng defended the decision to ease the lockdown.
He told Sky News: "Yes, things are opening up but people should have common sense, they should use judgment and I think if we act in a reasonable way, there is no reason to suppose that we can't reopen the economy entirely on June 21.
"I think there has to be a degree of common sense, a bit of caution and people shouldn't be running away being too exuberant, I suppose.
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"I think we just need to be measured and cautious."
He added he "fully expects" to be reopened by June 21, saying: "I think it is very likely to happen.
The minister said: "I've said the vaccines are working against the Indian variant, I think we've got to look at the numbers so we've got some flexibility but there is nothing I have seen and nothing the Prime Minister has seen up to now that suggests we are going to delay that June 21 date."
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Meanwhile, a scientific expert advising the Government said there is less than a 50% chance that the June 21 plan will be delayed.
But Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), also said the Indian variant meant things were still uncertain.
He said he thought "there's really one other wave" of infection to come in the UK.
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Prof Medley, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, added hopefully "vaccines will hold back the virus and prevent people going to hospital".
Boris Johnson last week said he has not ruled out that the strain could prevent the UK from achieving its plan for a full reopening next month.
He warned: "If the variant is significantly more transmissible, we're likely to face some hard choice.”
The Prime Minister said the UK will accelerate its vaccination programme to fight it.
- Boris Johnson
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