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.
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.
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
- 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
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”.
Vulnerable to be offered a booster jab from September
The Health Secretary’s address to MPs in the Commons continues.
He has said that the Government is considering whether to give a booster vaccine for coronavirus along with the flu jab over the winter.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs: “Because of the measures in place this winter, almost nobody in the UK had flu for 18 months now, that’s obviously a good thing but it does mean that immunity from flu is down. This winter’s flu campaign will be more important than ever and we’re currently looking at whether we can give people the Covid-19 booster shot and the flu jab at the same time.”
He said the most vulnerable would be offered a third dose from September.
Will the PM continue to wear a mask?
Boris Johnson said he would wear a mask in crowded places full of strangers but suggested he would not on an empty train carriage late at night.
The Prime Minister told the Downing Street press conference: “I will obviously wear a mask in crowded places where you are meeting people that you don’t know, as Chris (Whitty) was saying, to protect others and as a matter of simple courtesy.
“There’s a difference between that, and I think everyone can understand that, and circumstances where you might find yourselves sitting alone for hours late at night on a train with no one else in the compartment and there I think people should be entitled to exercise some discretion.”