When asked on BBC Breakfast on Friday if “caution and temperance” was needed when opening up she added: “I do, I am desperate to unlock, I think like everybody else, to try to get back to normal.
“Here in the North West lots of us have been in almost continuous lockdown for nearly a year-and-a-half now and it’s just really starting to take its toll.
“But I think if we proceed too fast, if the Government can’t get control of the new variant that has emerged which is more transmissible than previous variants, then we could end up in another lockdown and this has got to be the last lockdown.”
When asked if she supported a delay she said: “I think it’s highly unlikely they are going to go ahead with full unlocking on the 21st [of June].”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi stressed the importance of being “really careful” when asked about the possibility of a delay to the June 21 lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England.
“There has been some really hard won battles against this virus and we don’t want to squander those hard fought gains that we have made through the vaccination programme,” he told Times Radio Breakfast.
“In saying that, the virus hasn’t gone away, the virus will continue to attempt to mutate, to escape, to try and survive, and I think it’s really important that we are really careful.”
Jim McManus, vice-president of the Association of Directors of Public Health, acknowledged it was a “fiendishly difficult decision” on whether to further lift coronavirus restrictions in England on June 21.
Asked about reports in the Times that the Government is considering a four-week delay to Step 4 of the road map, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think if they are considering that, that is really welcome.
“I think we should strongly welcome the fact that they have given a very strong indication they will be driven by the data.
“This is a fiendishly difficult decision for anybody, nobody wants lockdown.
“But actually if that is what they are doing – and of course we are speculating – then good on them for actually really thinking closely about how we keep the progress we have made.”
Mr McManus said that pushing back the June 21 reopening would “stop us going backwards”.
“Businesses and organisations have done so well in reopening that if we just keep that going for a few more weeks, and invest that little bit of time to keep us going forwards, it will stop us going backwards,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“If you get enough people infected, you will get a rise in hospitalisations. You will also get a significant rise in long Covid, which is something we want to avoid too.
“The second thing is that the more people infected, the more variants will develop, and the more risk we have that a variant will develop that evades the vaccine completely.
“So actually, investing a bit of time is really important to enable the vaccine programme to finish and do its job.”