Dominic Raab hints that masks and social distancing could stay after June 21

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ominic Raab has hinted that masks and social distancing could stay beyond June 21.

The Foreign Secretary urged caution in the “last lap” of the fight against coronavirus, arguing there is only “a little bit more time” until all legal restrictions on social interaction are removed.

But he said “safeguards” will remain in place until after lockdown lifts on June 21 – the final phase of the roadmap.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “We want to get to a position at the end of June where we can get life back to as normal as possible but there need to be some safeguards in place.”

When asked what additional measures might be need still, he replied: “It will be around distancing maybe there will be something around masks but I don’t want to prejudge it.”

The Cabinet minister said “steady steps” out of lockdown are “the smart way to go” so that the many sacrifices are not squandered as people plead for hugs between family members to be permitted again sooner.

Mr Raab also said that “all the different contingencies” are being looked at when asked about a reported plan to consider offering vaccines to secondary school pupils as soon as September.

He told Sky’s 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.

Easing the lockdown in England / PA Graphics

“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 to make sure we do that in a careful way.

“We’re at the end of really the process if you like, we’ve got two more steps to take, but I do think given the rollout of the vaccine, that’s exciting. It’s got people thinking about not just social interaction but of course things like hugging your loved ones that you haven’t been able to do for a while.

“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.”

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