ST HELENS' MPs and the council leader have reacted to the government's latest announcement regarding the roadmap out of coronavirus lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the four-step roadmap on Monday, February 22, providing key tests over vaccines and the virus are met.

Schools are set to return on March 8 and outdoor hospitality and hairdressers are among businesses which can return on April 12, with a full reopening of hospitality from May 17.

Marie Rimmer, MP for St Helens South and Whiston, said: “It was good to hear a forward-looking plan from the Prime Minister. Now it needs to be put into action.

“Throughout this crisis there has been a big gap between what the government has promised, and what gets delivered. I hope this route out of lockdown works.

“The announcement makes the next few weeks and months so important. In St Helens and Knowsley we still have some of the highest rates of infection.

"We must do all we can to stop the spread of this virus and save lives.

“The vaccines are being rolled out, the end of lockdown is in sight. Let’s stick to the rules so that together we can get through this.”

Conor McGinn, MP for St Helens North, added: “Thanks to the efforts of our incredible scientists, NHS, Armed Forces and the collective spirit of the British people, a pathway out of this crisis has become possible.

“If this roadmap is to succeed, as we all want, the Prime Minister must learn from – not repeat – past mistakes.

“We need to unlock our country carefully and with a clear plan in place for people and businesses who will continue to need support.”

Councillor David Baines, leader of St Helens Borough Council said: "The publication of the government’s latest plan to get us out of lockdown is welcome, and it’s especially assuring to see it now apparently based on data rather than dates.

"I know this won’t be the quick lifting of restrictions many people want, but it definitely feels like light at the end of the tunnel.

There are questions about some aspects of this new plan, and I’m especially concerned about the impact on workers and businesses who so far haven’t been covered or mentioned by government, especially hospitality which won’t be allowed to open indoors until May 17 at the earliest.

"Labour will be asking government to address this and give businesses the support they need.

"Our council will be doing all we can to continue to support schools and education settings ahead of full reopening on March 8, and we’ll continue to do all we can to help businesses, workers, residents and organisations.

"It’s vital that we all continue to follow the basic rules - hands, face, space - get tested regularly if appropriate, and when you’re offered the vaccine take it. Let’s continue to get the infection rate down, protect each other, and let’s get back soon to the things we love.”