THE LEADER of Wokingham Liberal Democrats believes residents should see the four-step process for exiting lockdown as “target dates”.
Cllr Lindsay Ferris, said the four stages should be taken with some caution, and considered as target dates as opposed to fixed guarantees.
“We believe in a gradual staged approach to reopening the country,” he said. “As long as it is based on science — including there being a significant further fall in the number of Covid-19.
“Any confidence levels will obviously depend upon how this figure and also Hospital admissions change over time.”
He added: “While a set of four dates has been provided by the Government, it will not be possible to confirm these until a lot closer to the time. And if there should be problems found, then we can expect a delay.
“We are all looking forward to a break from lockdown and Midsummer is a good time for this. Personally I feel it might be too optimistic, but there is nothing wrong in setting a target.”
He said in order to increase public confidence that covid infection rates will drop, vaccination for frontline staff should be prioritised.
“Teachers, police, firemen, supermarket staff all need to be vaccinated as soon as practical,” he said, “They are the people who come into contact with the public and are at a continued risk.”
As part of the four-step plan, schools in England will open from Monday, March 8.
Cllr Ferris said it is “necessary” to vaccinate teachers and school staff as early as possible, in order
to avoid outbreaks of Covid-19 in classrooms or even a school.
He also warned about international travel.
“We need to maintain control of our border, certainly in the near term, particularly while many other countries have lower rates of vaccination,” he said. “Only then will full movement be possible — this might not occur until 2022.”
He said prematurely relaxing travel restrictions could cause extra problems, including the risk of new Covid-19 variants.
“It is vital that we support international vaccination programmes for all countries,” he said.
“This virus has already mutated several times. It would be a disaster if a new variant got into the country which was resistant to our vaccines. This would be like going back to square one.”
He also called for an assurance that all NHS and care home staff have been vaccinated, with priority given to the most vulnerable people in the community.