Campaign launched for extra bank holiday to celebrate end of lockdown - and honour NHS

By Claire Schofield
Friday, 26th February 2021, 10:49 am
Updated Friday, 26th February 2021, 10:50 am
The government hopes to end all social restrictions on 21 June at the earliest (Photo: Getty Images)
The government hopes to end all social restrictions on 21 June at the earliest (Photo: Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing calls to grant the UK a bank holiday to celebrate the end of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, and to honour frontline care workers.

The social media campaign was launched following Mr Johnson’s lockdown roadmap announcement on Monday (22 February), in which he set out plans for lifting restrictions over the coming months.

‘Merriweather Day’

The government hopes to end all social restrictions on 21 June at the earliest, following a cautious four-stage plan to ease current measures.

Mr Johnson has said he is “very optimistic” that all of England’s restrictions will be able to be fully lifted by this date, but has urged the nation to be “prudent” by continuing to follow the rules.

It is hoped all restrictions on social contact, businesses and events will be lifted by late June, although this will be dependent on four key tests. This includes the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, an assessment of new variants, and keeping infection rates below a level that could put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

MPs have now joined calls for 21 June, which marks the final stage of the lockdown roadmap, to be made a bank holiday.

More than 21,000 people have already signed a petition calling on the Prime Minister to create a holiday called ‘Merriweather Day’, which would allow families and friends to come together to celebrate.

The petition needs to reach 100,000 signatures before it can go on to be debated in Parliament.

The country ‘needs a day off’

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey has come forward and backed the demands, suggesting the day should be used to commemorate the efforts of NHS and care workers throughout the pandemic.

Speaking to The Sun, he said: “The whole country needs a day off - a great British summer bank holiday.

“That is why the Liberal Democrats are calling for a bank holiday to commemorate carers on the day legal Covid restrictions disappear.

“Hopefully, it’ll be a day for barbecues and picnics, but with restrictions over at least we can all go to the pub if it rains!”

Conservative MP Steve Baker, of the Covid Recovery Group, has also supported the idea, saying he would be “delighted” to see the one-off bank holiday go ahead.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister would not confirm whether the bank holiday was being considered by Mr Johnson, and emphasised that the date of 21 June is not set in stone.

The PM has cautioned that “nothing can be guaranteed”, with the lockdown roadmap to be guided by “data not dates”.

Speaking about the likelihood of lifting all restrictions by 21 June, Mr Johnson said: “I’m hopeful but obviously nothing can be guaranteed and it all depends on the way we continue to be prudent and continue to follow the guidance in each stage.

“Genuinely, because of the immense possibilities of the rollout, because science has given us this way of creating a shield around our population, we can really look at that June 21 date with some optimism.

“I’m very optimistic that we’ll be able to get there.”