The Daily Telegraph

‘Not sensible’ to rule out winter restrictio­ns


all at once, far from it, you’d want to do things in a graduated way.”

The Prime Minister said keeping vaccine passports “in reserve” was better than the alternativ­e.

“The reason for wanting to have this option is because it’s a choice between proceeding with Covid-19 certificat­ion or, sadly, once again asking places to close, and I certainly don’t want to do that,” he added.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser, urged the Government to go faster and harder in imposing new restrictio­ns if the Covid situation began to worsen. He said: “If you look across the Channel, countries where you’ve got similar levels of immunity and some higher degrees of restrictio­ns, what you can see is cases are going down.

“So, you can see we’re sort of at that pivot point where things are flattish at the moment.

“If they go up quickly then, as I’ve said, you’ve got to go early in terms of getting on top of it – you can’t wait until it’s late because you’ve got to do more.”

Describing the highly transmissi­ble delta form of Covid-19 as a “very bad” variant, Prof Whitty stressed that the UK had not yet experience­d a winter dealing with it. Flu and other seasonal respirator­y illnesses that flourish in winter, when people spend more time indoors with the windows shut, also threaten to place additional pressure on the health service.

Casting back to this time last September, as children returned to school and the weather worsened, Mr Johnson warned that “in one way our position today is actually more challengin­g”, as daily case figures are thousands higher now. However, he acknowledg­ed that in many other crucial respects, the nation is “incomparab­ly better placed to fight the disease” on account of the mass vaccinatio­n programme.

Concluding that Covid is “still out there” and “sadly still remains a risk”, the Prime Minister insisted it was “just not sensible” to rule out options such as mandatory vaccine passports.

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