03:11 GMT03 March 2021
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    LONDON (Sputnik) – UK Conservative lawmaker Steve Baker urged the government on Monday to allow pubs and restaurants in England to be open by Easter, although his fellow party member and prime minister Boris Johnson is still mulling a way out of the COVID-19 lockdown and asking people to be "prudent."

    "Easter is the time for pubs and hospitality venues … it is very important to their revenues and of course it is very important to us as we seek to rebuild our social lives," Baker told Sky News broadcaster.

    The deputy chairman of a group of Conservative lawmakers who oppose the government´s restrictions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic said that by the time of the Christian festivity at the beginning of April, two-thirds of those in the nine priority groups, including people under the age of 50 who are vulnerable would have been offered a vaccine against COVID-19.

    "By Easter, as the data improves and as people have been vaccinated, we'd like to see those venues open and then as we get to the end of April, as ministers have repeatedly said, we would have offered a vaccination to everybody in groups one to nine, and that should mean that we can lift away restrictions," he said.

    Baker stressed that by May, all lockdown regulations on the hospitality industry should be lifted and that Parliament should never again be asked to take "such a far-reaching decision without serious analysis that quantifies the harms and benefits of the restrictions."

    Johnson is expected to lay out on 22 February the government´s "roadmap" out of the lockdown, warned on Monday that "no decisions" have even been made yet on whether pupils will return to schools on March 8 as he had previously hinted.

    "No decisions have been taken on that sort of detail yet, though clearly, schools on 8 March has for a long time been a priority of the government and of families up and down the country," the prime minister told reporters during a visit to a health center in southeast London.

    He stressed, however, although the rates of infection are coming down, they are still comparatively high and too many people are still dying.

    "We have got to be prudent, and what we want to see is progress that is cautious but irreversible," Johnson added.

    The prime minister also highlighted the fact that the UK had met on Sunday its target of vaccinating 15 million people from the top four priority groups -over 70s, health and care home workers and clinically vulnerable patients -, and thanked scientists, the National Health Service and volunteers for their work in achieving the goal.

    The government is now inviting people aged 65 to 69 and those who are clinically vulnerable against COVID-19 to get the vaccine.

    COVID-19, lockdown, restaurant, pub, United Kingdom
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