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COVID-19: UK in ‘last lap’ of coronavirus fight, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tells Sky News

Written by on 2 May 2021

The UK is in the “last lap” of its fight against coronavirus, the foreign secretary has told Sky News.

But Dominic Raab said a “careful” approach to easing COVID-19 restrictions was still necessary, with “steady steps” the “smart way to go”.

Defending the pace of the government’s roadmap for easing measures, he told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I know that people are hankering to go a bit faster but actually we feel vindicated at taking steady steps out of the lockdown is the smart way to go.

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“We’re very close now to really turning the corner and I think we still need to be careful to go as I said we don’t want to see the gains lost and the sacrifices that have been made undone.

“By the time we get to June 21 almost all social restrictions will be lifted, so there’s only a little bit more time to go but it’s right we do that in a careful way.

“I do think we just need to make sure that in the last lap, if you like, that we are careful and we don’t lose the gains we’ve made.”

Asked about reports that secondary school pupils could be offered a coronavirus vaccine from September, Mr Raab said he would not “speculate at what we’re going to do beyond the existing road map” but added that “all the different contingencies” were being examined.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “No decisions have been made on whether children should be offered vaccinations and we will be guided by the experts once clinical trials have concluded.”

The next scheduled easing of COVID restrictions is set to come on 17 May.

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From this date, a maximum of six people or two households will be allowed to meet indoors and most restrictions on meeting outdoors will be lifted.

A range of businesses will also be able to reopen, including pubs and restaurants indoors.

On 21 June, the plan is to remove all remaining “legal limits” on social contact.

Speaking later to the BBC, Mr Raab said “some safeguards” could remain in place once legal restrictions come to an end, such as the continued wearing of face masks and social distancing.

Also speaking to Ridge, Labour’s Lisa Nandy said “amazing progress” has been made in the fight against the virus.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel, I think we can all see it, we can feel it, but we are not there yet,” the shadow foreign secretary said.

This was echoed by Professor Peter Openshaw, who said it was too early to declare victory over the virus.

Prof Openshaw, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I would absolutely say it is too early to declare victory and to drop our guard.

“We do know that this infection has a tendency to come back again and we need to use this time to be absolutely sure we have got every precaution in place to stop further outbreaks.”

It comes as the government launched a trial which will see daily lateral flow tests used as an alternative to isolation for those who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive.

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