Julia Hartley-Brewer asks when we’ll ‘get our freedom back’
Alok Sharma failed to outline how many people would need to be vaccinated before a majority of Britons are able to return to their pre-pandemic lives. The Business Secretary insisted many of the limits imposed on the UK during the first lockdown are not in place anymore and the approval of the first coronavirus vaccine will help a bit of normality to return. But talkRADIO presenter Julia Hartley-Brewer pressed the Conservative frontbencher to know if there are plans to further ease restrictions once a certain number of Britons have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ms Hartley-Brewer said: “Once the vaccine is rolled out to a certain number of people, at what point do we then go back not to the new normal but to the old normal?
“At what point do we get to walk around without wearing these stupid masks on our faces? We can go to the supermarket, do whatever we want and not self-isolate?
“How many people have to be vaccinated and which group before we can go to our normal lives and get our freedom back?”
Mr Sharma insisted that regardless of the speed at which the vaccine is rolled out the Government will continue to need monitoring the spread and maintain some restrictions to avoid sudden surges in the virus.
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The Business Secretary said: “It’s certainly the case that the more people get vaccinated, the quicker we will be able to assume normality.
“But it is also the case that we will continue to have to look and see what infection rates are and what the spread is across the country, what hospital admissions are just as we are now.
“I think there is room for optimism, we’ve got this vaccine. Hopefully, there will be other vaccine candidates becoming available as well and we’ve got the rapid testing.”
The response however seemed to fail to impress the radio host, who once again questioned how long the Government is planning to keep Britons restricted because of the pandemic.
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Ms Hartley-Brewer said: “What we want to know it…vaccine is very well, testing is very well. But at what point can we have our freedom back?
“Because a lot of people are very worried, and I’m among those people, that we’re never going to get this back. There is always going to be something.
“We’ve not got an endemic virus that’s never going to go away, people are still going to die of this virus even after everyone has been vaccinated.
“Are we going to get our freedom back once everyone over 70 has been vaccinated? Are we going to get our freedom back once everyone over 60 has been vaccinated? When do we get our freedom back?”
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Mr Sharma once again failed to provide a clear answer, defending the Government’s tier system as indispensable to protecting people’s lives.
He added: “If you think back to when we went into that first lockdown, a large part of the economy was shut down. That is not the case now.
“If you look at the tiering system that we have, large parts of the economy are open.
“Yes, of course, there are restrictions that are in place on people’s lives but it is ultimately to ensure we’re keeping people safe and we’re keeping the vulnerable safe.”
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