Success of vaccine rollout should mean no return to lockdown in Northern Ireland

This is the News Letter editorial column from Saturday, May 1.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 7:34 am
Updated Saturday, 1st May 2021, 7:57 am
News Letter editorial

There have been several false dawns before for our retailers and those in the embattled hospitality industry in Northern Ireland

The lifting of lockdown last summer offered only crumbs of comfort before rising Covid-19 figures saw further lockdowns in the autumn and then the longest of them all, stretching from Christmas well into the spring.

There are no guarantees in a pandemic, but this time the lifting of lockdown feels more permanent than last summer when the likelihood of a second wave loomed.

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The key this time is the extraordinary success of the UK’s vaccination programme, which only yesterday opened to some adults between the ages of 30 and 34 in Northern Ireland.

The UK was savagely criticised for its initial response to the pandemic but even the government’s fiercest critics cannot find fault with how the vaccination programme has progressed.

In Northern Ireland alone we are almost at one million jabs and while the progress out of lockdown arguably should have been quicker, we look on course for a summer that should be much more normal than what we experienced a year ago.

There could well be an upturn in new Covid cases but thanks to the vaccines that shouldn’t necessarily mean an increase in hospitalisations or deaths.