Plan is still to lift Covid restrictions on July 19, Health Secretary tells MPs
The Government is still on course to lift all coronavirus restrictions on July 19, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has told MPs.
Mr Javid was addressing the Commons for the first time since he took over following the resignation of Matt Hancock.
He said the Government planned to lift all restrictions on July 19 – the move was previously planned for June 21 but had to be postponed due to a rise in cases of the new delta variant of the disease.
Mr Javid told the House: “We see no reason to go beyond July 19, because, in truth, no date we choose comes with zero risk for Covid.
“We know we cannot simply eliminate it, we have to learn to live with it.
“We know people and businesses need certainty, so we want every step to be irreversible,” he said.
“And make no mistake, the restrictions on our freedom, they must come to an end.
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“We owe it to the British people, who have sacrificed so much, to restore their freedoms as quickly as we possibly can and not to wait a moment longer than we need to.
“July 19 remains our target date.
“The Prime Minister has called it our ‘terminus date’. For me, July 19 is not only the end of the line, but the start of an exciting new journey for our country.”
The Health Secretary stressed the importance of the vaccination programme, telling MPs: “The more people that are getting vaccinated, we’re seeing clear evidence that we’re breaking the link – and this is absolutely crucial – between people getting infected by Covid-19 so the number of cases, versus those that are ending up, sadly, in hospital or even in some cases losing their lives.
“The more evidence we see of that, the more confident that can make us that we’ll put this pandemic behind us.
“That’s what gives me confidence about July 19 and all the data that I’ve seen – yesterday I sat down and discussed it with the experts, some of my colleagues – it’s very clear that we’re heading in the right direction and I am very confident about that date, July 19.
“It is absolutely our intention to have Step 4 commence on 19 July and remove restrictions and start returning to normal.”