Awkward moment Matt Hancock swipes 'but I'm the health secretary!' as he's grilled over lockdown easing timeline

THIS is the awkward moment Matt Hancock moaned "but I'm the Health Secretary" as he rejected a lockdown timeline.

The frustrated MP was being grilled about when the current restrictions would ease when he made the jab.

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Mr Hancock said the rules would remain in place for "as long as they are necessary".

He then rejected claims he had "put a timescale" on the current national lockdown.

When told by Sky News "some" of his colleagues had timetabled the restrictions, Mr Hancock swiped back: "But I'm the Health Secretary".

Boris Johnson plunged the UK into a third lockdown last Monday with shops, schools and sports facilities shut across England.

He urged everyone to stay home once again until at least the middle of February when the current rules will be reviewed.

And according to reports, March 23 has been circulating around the government as the potential date the restrictions would begin to be eased.

This marks the anniversary of the first-ever lockdown in the UK.

But Mr Hancock said today it was "impossible to know" when the measures would end.

He said: "We will keep the restrictions in place not a moment longer than they are necessary, but we will keep them in place as long as they are necessary.

"These measures that we have got in place that we hope to be able to lift, and we should be able to lift when we have been able to protect through vaccination those who are vulnerable – right now the vaccination is not in a position to do that."

It comes after Mr Hancock last week outlined the four key criteria for lifting the latest lockdown – including how well the vaccination programme is working.

And he suggested that the new restrictions may run until at least March.

Mr Hancock told MPs: "We've set out the conditions that we'll look at for the relaxation of the restrictions.

"Those are, that there isn't another major, new variant that is causing difficulties.

"The vaccination program is working, and the number of hospitalisations and deaths is coming down."

It comes as ministers today warned lockdown measures could be tightened in days amid fears people aren't following the rules.

Downing Street is currently considering whether to clamp down further as Covid deaths and cases continue to spike in the UK.

Scientists have warned the measures are "too lax" to stop the mutant spread exploding across the country.

Extra measures could include scrapping the current rule allowing two people to meet for exercise outdoors. 

It is understood other possible curbs could include an end to click-and-collect shopping and the closure of businesses such as food markets or estate agents.

The Sun previously looked at five ways lockdown in England could get tougher – including the compulsory wearing of masks and the closure of nurseries.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman did not rule out further tightening of lockdown restrictions yesterday, saying: “If we need to take further action we will. 

“But the important thing now is we are asking people to stay at home.”

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