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MPs vote for a four-week delay to England's lockdown easing Published Date: 17/06/2021

The BBC reported that national restrictions in England will be extended by up to four weeks after MPs backed the government in a Commons vote by 461 to 60.

It means the regulations can stay in place until 19 July.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs ahead of the vote there has been a "significant change" that has given the virus "extra legs".

Labour supported the delay but said it did so "with a heavy heart".

Several Conservative MPs expressed their unhappiness with the plans and 51 voted against the government.

Former Conservative minister, Mark Harper, who chairs the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group, said: "My worry, and the worry of others, is we're going to get to this point in four weeks' time and we're just going to be back here all over again extending the restrictions."

Senior Tory Sir Desmond Swayne said ministers' response to the rising cases was disproportionate and a threat to civil liberties.

"I always thought it was wrong for them to take our freedoms, even though they believed that they were acting in our best interests in an emergency, but by any measure that emergency has now passed and yet freedoms are still withheld, and the government will not allow us to assess for ourselves the risks that we are prepared to encounter in our ordinary everyday lives," he said.

Former cabinet minister Dame Andrea Leadsom said while she would reluctantly back the government in the vote, she urged ministers to show some "flexibility" and if possible lift restrictions after two weeks rather than four.

On weddings, she said: "For many couples being able to hug, but not dance, you can't have a band, you've got to socially distance, that's not the kind of big day that they wanted for themselves and their families, so can he reconsider this?"

School and university students, she added, "are now faced for the second year in a row with no end-of-year celebrations".

Source: BBC News