RECAP as Boris Johnson confirms lockdown easing plans in England at Downing Street briefing

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the lifting of all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 6:39 pm

The PM announced at a Downing Street press conference today (July 5) that the final raft of lockdown restrictions will be removed as planned on July 19.

At a news conference at 5 pm on Monday, Mr Johnson confirmed a number of measures – including the one metre-plus rule in hospitality venues, the use of face coverings and work from home guidance will be scrapped in the next stage of the road map to lifting lockdown.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on Monday, April 5. Picture: PA Video/PA Wire

He also confirmed all businesses – including nightclubs – will be allowed to reopen with no limit on the number of people attending concerts, theatres and sport events.

The briefing happened as Health Secretary Sajid Javid was also updating MPs on the plans in the Commons.

Mr Javid said that the Government is considering whether to give a booster vaccine for coronavirus along with the flu jab over the winter, with the most vulnerable set to be offered a third dose from September.

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Live updates as Boris Johnson set to outline final stage of lockdown easing

Last updated: Monday, 05 July, 2021, 17:38

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce England is on track to lift remaining coronavirus restrictions during a Downing Street briefing at 5 pm
  • Health Secretary Sajid Javid will update MPs on the plans at the same time
  • Multiple reports have suggested the one metre-plus rule in hospitality venues, the use of face coverings and work from home guidance will be scrapped

Why PM and Health Secretary’s announcements are happening at the same time?

As Boris Johnson updates the public on the final stage of lockdown easing at a Downing Street news conference at 5 pm, Health Secretary Sajid Javid will be addressing MPs in Parliament about the plans.

The simultaneous announcements come after Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle met with Johnson last month to raise issue with the fact statements about lockdown changes were being made to the press before MPs were told in the House of Commons.

It was then agreed that announcements would be made simultaneously to the public and MPs in the House of Commons, which is also broadcast live on the Parliament website.

Which restrictions are expected to be lifted?

The Prime Minister is expected to tell people in England later that it will be left to their “judgment” to manage the risks of coronavirus as he prepares to end restrictions on July 19.

It has been suggested that from so-called “freedom day” on July 19 mask wearing will become voluntary, while social distancing in pubs and bars will end – along with needing to use a QR code to check-in.

Mass events, including festivals, will also reportedly be allowed under the proposals for the final stage of the road map out of lockdown.

What will the Prime Minister say?

The Prime Minister is expected to say: “Thanks to the successful rollout of our vaccination programme, we are progressing cautiously through our road map.

“Today we will set out how we can restore people’s freedoms when we reach Step 4.

“But I must stress that the pandemic is not over and that cases will continue to rise over the coming weeks.

“As we begin to learn to live with this virus, we must all continue to carefully manage the risks from Covid and exercise judgment when going about our lives.”

North East becomes virus hotspot

Latest figures show the North East overtaking the North West as the nation’s main coronavirus hotspot, with Newcastle upon Tyne becoming the area of England with the highest rate of new cases of Covid-19.

Other areas of region are currently seeing their highest rate of new cases since comparable figures began last summer, when mass testing was first introduced across the UK.

These include South Tyneside (604.1), Gateshead (565.2), County Durham (551.2) and North Tyneside (547.3), according to analysis by the PA news agency.

Six of the top 10 highest rates in England are in North East England – a major turnaround from just two weeks ago, when the entire top 10 were areas in north-west England.

UK records more than 27,000 new Covid cases on Monday

As of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 27,334 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.

The Government said a further nine people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the UK total to 128,231.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

How many jabs have been given in England since December?

A total of 66,368,542 Covid-19 vaccinations had taken place in England between December 8 and July 4, according to NHS England data, including first and second doses, which is a rise of 148,420 on the previous day.

NHS England said 38,044,157 were first doses, a rise of 62,672 on the previous day, while 28,324,385 were a second dose, an increase of 85,748.

Downing Street briefing begins

The PM has started the Downing Street news conference.

He is joined by England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance

Legal coronavirus restrictions to be lifted, PM confirms

The Prime Minister has confirmed all legal limits on the number of people meeting indoors and outdoors will be removed from Step 4, expected to happen on July 19.

Businesses, including nightclubs, will be allowed to reopen and the limit on named visitors to care homes will also be lifted.

Boris Johnson has also told the press conference that the work from home guidance will be removed as well and mask wearing will no longer be mandatory.

Gap between vaccine doses reduced

The gap between coronavirus vaccine doses for the under-40s will be reduced from 12 weeks to eight in an acceleration of the rollout to allow all adults to be offered both jabs by mid-September, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

Plans to scrap self-isolation for fully-vaccinated travellers

The red list is set to remain, but the Prime Minister has told the Downing Street briefing that the Government will work with the travel industry to remove the need for self-isolating for fully-vaccinated people arriving from amber list countries.

Boris Johnson has added that the transport secretary will be providing an update later this week.

Pandemic far from over, Boris Johnson says

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the pandemic is “far from over” and will not be over by July 19, with a potential 50,000 cases detected a day by that date.

He told the Downing Street press conference: “We’re seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from Covid.

“In these circumstances we must take a careful and a balanced decision. And there’s only one reason why we can contemplate going ahead to step four in circumstances where we’d normally be locking down further, and that’s because of the continuing effectiveness of the vaccine rollout.”

He said the expectation remains that by July 19 every adult in the UK will have had the offer of a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and two-thirds will have had a second dose.

PM: We must balance the risk

Boris Johnson said we must “balance the risk” of the disease from the virus and the harm from continuing with legal restrictions which “inevitably take their toll on people’s lives and livelihoods, on people’s health and mental health”.

He added: “And we must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer, and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves ‘when will we be able to return to normal?’

“And to those who say we should delay again – the alternative to that is to open up in winter when the virus will have an advantage, or not at all this year.”

Vallance: Deaths are increasing

Sir Patrick Vallance warned that “deaths are increasing” and “we would expect that to continue” as Covid cases rise, as he said people must “behave accordingly in terms of trying to limit transmission”.

The chief scientific adviser said that infections are “going up” and that “the link between cases and hospitalisations and cases and deaths is weakened but not completely broken, and we would expect to see some further increase”.

He told the Downing Street press conference that “we are in the face of an increasing epidemic at the moment and therefore we need to behave accordingly in terms of trying to limit transmission”.

Vaccine passports not to be used

Health Secretary Sajid Javid is currently updating MPs in the Commons on the lockdown easing plans.

Mr Javid has said the Government had decided against the use of so-called vaccine passports.

He told MPs: “While already a feature of international travel, we have concluded that we do not think using certification as a condition of entry is a way to go. For people who have not been offered a full course of vaccination and for businesses we felt the impact outweighed the public health benefits. Of course, businesses can use Covid status certification at their own discretion.”

Mr Javid said the NHS app would show a person’s Covid status so they could prove they had either had a full course of the vaccine, a recent negative test, “or some other proof of natural immunity”.

Test, trace and isolation to remain in place

A test, trace and isolate system that is “proportionate to the pandemic” will continue to be used, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

He told the Downing Street press conference: “You will have to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

“We are looking to move to a different regime for fully vaccinated contacts of those testing positive and also for children.”

He said that more details are to be announced on Tuesday to “maintain key protections but remove bubbles and contact isolation for pupils”.

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