Tory lockdown rebels set Boris Johnson March 8 deadline for easing Covid ...

TORY lockdown rebels have given Boris Johnson a March 8 deadline to start relaxing the coronavirus restrictions imposed upon people across England.

PUBLISHED: 22:10, Mon, Jan 11, 2021 | UPDATED: 22:24, Mon, Jan 11, 2021

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Senior backbencher Mark Harper, chairman and co-founder of the self-styled Covid Recovery Group warned restrictions should not remain in place for "a second longer" once the vaccine has protected priority groups. The former Tory chief whip spoke out as health chiefs vowed to vaccinate around 15 million people by mid-February covering care home residents, the over-70s, clinically extremely vulnerable people and frontline health and care staff.

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Like the disease, lockdowns and restrictions cause immense harm

Mark Harper

Those groups accounted for 88 percent of fatalities when the first wave of the pandemic swept across the country and the Government is in a race against time to protect them with a first dose of vaccine.

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Mr Harper said there should be no reason to keep England under national lockdown in place once people in these groups had received their jab and it has been given time to become effective.

He said achieving the mid-February goal must remain the "central, overriding focus" for ministers with more than 2.3 million people already receiving a vaccination.

Boris JohnsonBoris Johnson has been given a lockdown deadline by Tory backbenchers (Image: PA)

Mr Harper said: "Like the disease, lockdowns and restrictions cause immense harm.

"So for today's progress to really mean something to the millions of people across the country who are doing the right thing and obeying the law, the Government must urgently set out exactly how today's progress begins to translate into a return to normal life for us all and show a clear exit strategy - a route back to freedom."

With a lag of three weeks between the vaccine being administered and offering its full protection, Mr Harper said "if we

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