Boris Johnson says ‘very low’ Covid case rate key to easing lockdown

Emphasis on infection rate in addition to four initial criteria likely to inflame backbench tensions

Boris Johnson is closely monitoring coronavirus case rates as a requirement for easing restrictions in England, stressing the need for a layer of caution alongside four key criteria set out at the beginning of lockdown.

Last month Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said the success of the vaccine programme, reducing hospitalisations, reducing deaths and controlling the spread of new variants were the four criteria used to decide when the strictest measures could be lifted.

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