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Ministers are seeing “encouraging” indicators that plan B coronavirus restrictions in England may very well be lifted in 10 days’ time, the chair of the Conservative occasion, Oliver Dowden, has stated.

Present measures in England, together with steering to work at home and the widespread use of face coverings, have been imposed in early December to assist deal with the unfold of Omicron. They’re set to be reviewed on 26 January.

Within the clearest trace but that some or the entire measures shall be eliminated on that date, Dowden, who additionally serves as minister with out portfolio, stated that whereas the federal government would evaluation additional knowledge this week earlier than making a call, the “indicators are encouraging”.

His feedback got here after well being and scientific specialists expressed cautious optimism this weekend that the Covid state of affairs was bettering.

Dr Susan Hopkins, the UK Well being Safety Company (UKHSA) chief medical adviser, stated circumstances gave the impression to be “plateauing” in elements of the UK, and added that whereas circumstances have been nonetheless comparatively excessive, there had additionally been a slowdown in hospital admissions.

Prof Linda Bauld, a professor of public well being on the College of Edinburgh and chief social coverage adviser to the Scottish authorities, stated Omicron circumstances within the UK gave the impression to be “stabilising”. Dr Chris Smith, a guide virologist and lecturer at Cambridge College, stated the most recent knowledge gave him “nice trigger for optimism”.

Dowden informed Sky Information’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme: “It has all the time been my hope that we might have the plan B restrictions for the shortest interval doable.

“I’m beneath little doubt the type of burdens this places hospitality, wider enterprise, faculties and so forth beneath, and I need us to do away with these if we presumably can. The indicators are encouraging however, clearly, we are going to wait to see the info forward of that remaining resolution.”

Sir Keir Starmer stated he hoped plan B restrictions may very well be lifted “as quickly as doable”.

Talking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, the Labour chief stated: “I feel the earlier we will carry the ultimate restrictions, the higher. I feel that’s what the entire nation need.

“It’s vital that we’re led by the science on this. We had entry to the federal government scientific and medical advisers, and that’s helped us kind our views.

“I hope these restrictions may be lifted as quickly as doable, however I need them to be lifted as a result of the medical science says they need to be lifted, not just because the prime minister is in an actual mess and he’s desperately making an attempt to get out of it.

“So, if it’s the suitable factor to carry these restrictions, we are going to vote to carry these restrictions. However we’ll be led by the science as we all the time have been, not by the politics of propping up a damaged prime minister.”

The shadow well being secretary, Wes Streeting, stated he couldn’t be assured the federal government was not seeking to carry plan B measures in a bid to shore up Boris Johnson’s management.

He informed Trevor Phillips on Sunday: “If the prime minister or the well being secretary from the Conservative occasion is coming ahead saying, ‘We’re going to take away Plan B measures’, I wish to be completely assured they’re making that call within the nationwide curiosity and never within the occasion curiosity, for occasion administration causes. I don’t have complete confidence about that.”

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