Minister says time needed for vaccine to take effect means restrictions cannot definitely be lifted in mid-February

The third national lockdown imposed in England to try to deal with the huge increase in Covid-19 cases is likely to remain in place into March at least, with some measures lasting even longer, the government has indicated.

The cabinet secretary, Michael Gove, said he hoped the gradual lifting of restrictions could begin in mid-February, but that the time it took for the vaccines to take effect meant it was likely to be at least another couple of weeks before measures could start to be eased.

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