COVID-19: Boris Johnson says ‘caution is absolutely vital’ ahead of lockdown lifting address to the nation
Written by Hitmix News on 12 July 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said “caution is absolutely vital” as he prepares to address the nation on Monday to announce whether the final stage of releasing coronavirus restrictions can go ahead.
The prime minister is expected to confirm that England can move to step four of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, but to also warn “the global pandemic is not over yet” and that cases of the virus will rise as rules are relaxed.
Mr Johnson will host a news briefing on Monday afternoon to inform the public of whether the easing of restrictions will go ahead as planned on 19 July.
Image: Earlier this month, Boris Johnson said social distancing would come to an end as the government moves to step four of its roadmap out of lockdown for England
And newly appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid will announce the plans in parliament.
Ahead of the announcement, the prime minister said: “We are tantalisingly close to the final milestone in our road map out of lockdown, but the plan to restore our freedoms must come with a warning.
“While the phenomenal vaccine rollout has offered every adult some protection against the virus, and the crucial link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths is weakened, the global pandemic is not over yet.
“Cases will rise as we unlock, so as we confirm our plans today, our message will be clear.
“Caution is absolutely vital, and we must all take responsibility so we don’t undo our progress, ensuring we continue to protect our NHS.”
The government has said whether or not the unlocking takes place would depend on four key tests: The success of the vaccination rollout; a reduction in hospitalisations and deaths as a result of the vaccine; that infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions; and that no new variants of concern hamper progress that has been made.
Image: Labour has called for masks to remain mandatory on public transport
On Monday morning, health minister Edward Argar told Sky News the government believed the country was “on target” to meet those four tests.
But, despite the likely lifting of legal restrictions on 19 July, Mr Argar said that guidance would still be in place for the public.
“There will still be guidance in place and we would urge caution and the innate common sense of the British people around things like mask wearing,” he said.
“If not now, when?,” Mr Argar asked about the prospect of lifting remaining COVID rules in a week’s time.
“We’re in a position now where the vaccination programme – our defensive wall against this virus – is proving hugely effective.”
The prime minister will host Monday’s news conference following England’s defeat to Italy at the final of Euro 2020 – a match during which an World Health Organisation epidemiologist described “devastating” scenes of unmasked fans shouting and singing at London’s Wembley stadium.
“Am I supposed to be enjoying watching transmission happening in front of my eyes?,” Maria Van Kerkhove posted on Twitter.
“The #COVID19 pandemic is not taking a break tonight… #SARSCoV2 #DeltaVariant will take advantage of unvaccinated people, in crowded settings, unmasked, screaming/shouting/singing. Devastating.”
Am I supposed to be enjoying watching transmission happening in front of my eyes?
The #COVID19 pandemic is not taking a break tonight… #SARSCoV2 #DeltaVariant will take advantage of unvaccinated people, in crowded settings, unmasked, screaming/shouting/singing. Devastating.
— Maria Van Kerkhove (@mvankerkhove) July 11, 2021
Last month, Mr Johnson announced a delay to the final step of the government’s final stage of lockdown easing to ensure all adults had been offered a vaccine and that more individuals had received two doses.
Data released on Friday showed that 45.7 million (86.9%) adults have received their first jab while 34.5 million (65.6%) have received both doses.
Earlier this month, the prime minister confirmed almost all restrictions would be lifted at step four – including social distancing, the mandatory requirement to wear a mask in certain places and the work from home guidance.
However, Mr Johnson has faced backlash over his decision to remove the mask wearing rule for public transport as cases continue to surge, with both Labour, some doctors and unions criticising the move.
And on Sunday, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News the government will issue guidance stating that people will still be “expected to wear masks in indoor, enclosed places” after the final step of releasing lockdown restrictions.
Mr Zahawi said he was “confident” that the prime minister would be able to announce on Monday that COVID restrictions will be lifted on 19 July as planned, but that Mr Johnson will inform the public they should continue to wear face coverings in crowded places – despite the legal requirement to do so ending.
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Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said people will still be ‘expected’ to wear masks in indoors and enclosed spaces
Last week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs he is “very relaxed” about airlines, train firms and bus operators imposing their own COVID-related rules, including on wearing face masks, beyond 19 July.
Shadow education secretary Kate Green told Sky News the changing positions from government ministers is a “recipe for confusion” and said Labour believes “mandatory mask-wearing should continue in public places”.
Wales has already deviated from the UK Government’s position on mask wearing, announcing that face masks will remain mandatory there in some public places until COVID-19 is no longer a public health threat.
Masks must still be worn in taxis, on trains and buses, as well as health and social care settings when coronavirus restrictions are eased, the Welsh government said.