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Covid England: Boris Johnson to lift strict lockdown next month

The strict ‘stay at home’ message will be ditched by Boris Johnson and the green light given for outdoor sports as the country takes it first steps out of lockdown, it has been revealed.

The Prime Minister will end tough restrictions next month that mean people can only leave their homes for work, exercise or to buy essentials. 

It comes as NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens yesterday vowed to double the number of jabs being given to one million vaccines a day in order for the Government to hit its next target.  

As part of the first major easing, ministers plan to overhaul the rules to allow socialising outside from as soon as March 8. Possibly before the end of March, outdoor leisure activities, including golf and tennis, will be permitted.

As well as transmission risks being low as they are played outside, officials believe the public may be spurred into getting fit if the pursuits are among the first things to be allowed.   

The Prime Minister will end tough restrictions next month that mean people can only leave their homes for work, exercise or to buy essentials. Pictured, Helen Tukapua, 34, and husband Reagan, 41, on Richmond Green last summer

(file image)

(file image)

Possibly before the end of March, outdoor leisure activities, including golf and tennis, will be permitted (file images)

How will PM’s road map look? 

The road map for easing lockdown will be unveiled on Monday, setting out the order in which rules will be lifted and the target dates. Here’s what we know so far:

  • The only firm date is March 8, when schools will open.
  • Socialising is the next priority. The plan is to allow individuals to go out with anyone from their own household, for example for a family picnic, or for individuals to see one person from another household.
  • Outdoor sports including golf and tennis may be allowed at some point next month. Ministers are also keen to open leisure centres and gyms but this may take longer.
  • High street stores could open at the end of next month, or the start of April. Hairdressers and beauty salons will follow later.
  • Pubs and restaurants could open in April or May but possibly with customers served at outdoor tables at first.
  • Rules on staying local and travelling in the UK for holidays will probably be eased in May.

At the same time the Government intends to drops its slogan, ‘Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives’.

At last night’s Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said he wanted ‘this lockdown to be the last’, as he promised to gradually remove restrictions in a ‘cautious but also irreversible’ way. 

While admitting he could not give a ‘cast iron guarantee’ there will be no further lockdowns, the Prime Minister stressed that ‘science is now unquestionably in the ascendancy over the disease’. 

‘I don’t want people to think that I am not optimistic, there has been a big change,’ he added.

Mr Johnson will publish his roadmap for easing lockdown next Monday, which will include target dates for the earliest each of the restrictions will be lifted. 

He is expected to chair a meeting of the Cabinet’s ‘Covid O’ committee later this week to hammer out the details. 

And he will present the blueprint in the Commons on Monday afternoon, before making a televised address from Downing Street in the evening.

Government sources said one of Mr Johnson’s top priorities is to allow more outdoor pursuits as he wants to ‘kickstart the health of the nation’. 

Last night the PM called for people to be ‘optimistic but also patient’ about the situation. 

‘There’s no question that as this goes on and the lockdown continues the stresses and strains are really beginning to tell on people,’ he conceded.

Mr Johnson encouraged the public to ‘try to keep going through this pandemic… because I hope that there isn’t that much longer to go now.’ 

Asked if this will be the last lockdown, he said: ‘I can’t give that guarantee, of course not, because we are battling with nature, with a disease that is capable of mutating and changing. 

‘I’m increasingly confident, I’m increasingly optimistic about the sheer extent of the possibilities that are opening up with vaccinations. 

Shoppers wearing face masks walk in the city centre of Leeds. Mr Johnson will publish his roadmap for easing lockdown next Monday, which will include target dates for the earliest each of the restrictions will be lifted

Shoppers wearing face masks walk in the city centre of Leeds. Mr Johnson will publish his roadmap for easing lockdown next Monday, which will include target dates for the earliest each of the restrictions will be lifted

‘I will be setting out as much of a timetable as we can give on the 22nd and I’m very hopeful that we will be able to go ahead and open things up.’ 

Mr Johnson encouraged the public to ‘try to keep going through this pandemic… because I hope that there isn’t that much longer to go now.’ 

Asked if this will be the last lockdown, he said: ‘I can’t give that guarantee, of course not, because we are battling with nature, with a disease that is capable of mutating and changing.

‘I’m increasingly confident, I’m increasingly optimistic about the sheer extent of the possibilities that are opening up with vaccinations. 

‘I will be setting out as much of a timetable as we can give on the 22nd and I’m very hopeful that we will be able to go ahead and open things up.’

Government sources said one of Mr Johnson’s top priorities is to allow more outdoor pursuits as he wants to ‘kickstart the health of the nation’ (file image)

Government sources said one of Mr Johnson’s top priorities is to allow more outdoor pursuits as he wants to ‘kickstart the health of the nation’ (file image)

Mr Johnson encouraged the public to ‘try to keep going through this pandemic... because I hope that there isn’t that much longer to go now.’ Pictured, a staff member at The Shy Horse pub and restaurant in Chessington, Greater London, last July

Mr Johnson encouraged the public to ‘try to keep going through this pandemic… because I hope that there isn’t that much longer to go now.’ Pictured, a staff member at The Shy Horse pub and restaurant in Chessington, Greater London, last July

It comes as data yesterday showed that Britain recorded just 9,765 coronavirus cases in the smallest daily rise since October, with 230 lab-confirmed deaths. 

Both daily tolls were down by 30 per cent on last Monday’s 14,104 infections and 333 fatalities.    

Figures show that the number of deaths seem to be falling across the country, following a peak in cases roughly around the end of 2020. 

Those over age 80 make up half of hospital deaths, compared to roughly 56 per cent earlier in the year, analysis by the Covid Actuaries Response Group shows. 

During his press conference last night, the Prime Minister said the moment was ‘a huge step forward’.

He said: ‘This moment is a huge step forward but it’s only a first step.  And while it shows what the country can do we must be both optimistic but also patient.

‘And next week I will be setting out a roadmap saying as much as we possibly can about the route to normality even though some things are very uncertain.

‘Because we want this lockdown to be the last. And we want progress to be cautious but also irreversible.’ 

Imperial College expert warns new coronavirus wave could kill tens of thousands of Britons by late summer if lockdown is completely lifted too early

By Henry Martin for MailOnline 

The new wave of coronavirus could kill tens of thousands of Britons by late summer if the lockdown is lifted too soon, an Imperial College expert has warned.  

The government has vowed to release its plan to exit lockdown on February 22, but reports indicate the Government is taking a cautious approach to returning the country to normality. 

Professor Azra Ghani revealed how a new model called COVIDSIM, made at Imperial College London, forecasts a significant wave of deaths by summer 2021 if restrictions are eased in July – even despite a successful vaccine rollout. 

But a more positive result can be achieved if most restrictions are kept in place until most Britons are vaccinated in September, ITV News reports.  

Professor Ghani said: ‘My advice would be to be cautious… to open up slowly, because in the long term this will be the better way out of the pandemic.’

Professor Azra Ghani revealed how a new model called COVIDSIM, made at Imperial College London, forecasts a significant wave of deaths by summer 2021 if restrictions are eased in July - even despite a successful vaccine rollout

Professor Azra Ghani revealed how a new model called COVIDSIM, made at Imperial College London, forecasts a significant wave of deaths by summer 2021 if restrictions are eased in July – even despite a successful vaccine rollout

Using a graph that pinpoints reported deaths, Professor Ghani said that from the current time forward, with current measures in place and with the help of the vaccination programme, we could expect to see a 'really rapid decline in deaths'

Using a graph that pinpoints reported deaths, Professor Ghani said that from the current time forward, with current measures in place and with the help of the vaccination programme, we could expect to see a ‘really rapid decline in deaths’

She added: ‘The problem is that it is highly transmissible, we now have these new variants in place that we know are even more transmissible than previously, and not everybody will be vaccinated for various reasons.

‘That can lead to subsequent epidemics if we just relaxed everything straight away.’

Using a graph that pinpoints reported deaths, Professor Ghani said that from the current time forward, with current measures in place and with the help of the vaccination programme, we could expect to see a ‘really rapid decline in deaths’.     

The model comes as Boris Johnson warns the public to be ‘optimistic but patient’ as he cautioned against cutting any corners when it comes to lifting the lockdown.

The Prime Minister struck a blunt tone as he warned that he wanted the current shutdown to be the last – while admitting he could not ‘guarantee’ that it would be.

Mr Johnson is planning to reveal the guts of his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown in a week’s time but is facing heavy pressure from politicians and industry leaders to raise restrictions as soon as possible.

They see the announcement that the 15million vaccinations’ target being hit on time as a sign that lockdown can be totally lifted by May, with key sectors of the economy back on their feet much sooner.

Britain on Monday recorded just 9,765 coronavirus cases in the smallest daily rise since October, with 230 lab-confirmed deaths. Both daily tolls were down by 30 per cent on last Monday’s 14,104 infections and 333 fatalities.

But what may be seen as a swipe at fidgeting Tory backbenchers of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) he said ‘we don’t today have all the hard facts that we need’ and urged caution with freedom at last within sight.

The PM also urged people to take reports on the dates and order of the easing of lockdown restrictions ‘with a pinch of salt’.

Fronting a Downing Street press conference tonight, he said: ‘This moment is a huge step forward but it’s only a first step. And while it shows what the country can do we must be both optimistic but also patient.

‘And next week I will be setting out a roadmap saying as much as we possibly can about the route to normality even though some things are very uncertain.

‘Because we want this lockdown to be the last. And we want progress to be cautious but also irreversible.’

Boris Johnson ‘moves the goalposts’: Prime Minister says this must be the last lockdown… but warns we need ‘really low’ numbers of new infections to ease restrictions

By Martin Beckford for the Daily Mail  

Boris Johnson was accused of shifting the goalposts again on lockdown after he said that infection rates must fall to ‘really, really low’ levels before restrictions could be lifted.

The Prime Minister had previously said that the level of Covid deaths, vaccine rollout, new variants and pressure on hospital beds were the main determinants.

Speaking at the Downing Street press conference, the PM said he said: ‘We want this lockdown to be the last. And we want progress to be cautious, but also irreversible.’

Boris Johnson was accused of shifting the goalposts again on lockdown after he said that infection rates must fall to ‘really, really low’ levels before restrictions could be lifted after previously stating the level of Covid deaths, vaccine rollout, new variants and pressure on hospital beds were the main determinants

Boris Johnson was accused of shifting the goalposts again on lockdown after he said that infection rates must fall to ‘really, really low’ levels before restrictions could be lifted after previously stating the level of Covid deaths, vaccine rollout, new variants and pressure on hospital beds were the main determinants

But earlier he said his ‘prudent’ road map required ‘really, really low’ numbers of new cases for the permanent rolling back of curbs. 

And even as the number of new cases fell to its lowest level since early October, he warned that the easing of lockdown could be delayed if there is a resurgence.

While he said he could not give a ‘cast-iron guarantee’ that this would be the final lockdown, he stressed his belief that science was ‘in the ascendancy’. 

Asked about his plans to lift restrictions on a visit to a vaccination clinic in south London yesterday, Mr Johnson told Sky News: ‘We will want to see those rates really, really low. Because the risk is if you have a large volume of circulation, if you’ve got loads of people, even young people, getting the disease a couple of things happen.

‘First you have a higher risk of new variants, of mutations. Secondly there will also be a greater risk of the disease spreading out into the older groups again.

‘No vaccination programme is 100 per cent effective, so when you have a large volume circulating, inevitably, the vulnerable will suffer. So that’s why we want to drive it right down, keep it right down.’ 

Speaking about next Monday’s announcement of his ‘road map’ for relaxing lockdown measures, Mr Johnson added: ‘The dates we will be setting out will be the dates by which we hope we can do something at the earliest. It’s the target date.

‘If, because of the rate of infection, we have to delay for a little bit, we won’t hesitate.’

But the PM faced criticism from his backbenchers for including a low infection rate among the criteria for lockdown to be lifted.

When he announced the current lockdown on January 4, he had only said he hoped ‘we can steadily move out of lockdown’ if ‘our understanding of the virus doesn’t change dramatically again’, ‘if the rollout of the vaccine continues to be successful’, ‘if deaths start to fall as the vaccine takes effect’, and ‘if everyone plays their part by following the rules’.

At the end of January, he said the plan would ‘depend on the continued success of our vaccination programme, the capacity of the NHS, and on deaths falling at the pace we would expect’. 

The PM (pictured at an Orpington vaccination hub today) faced criticism from his backbenchers for including a low infection rate among the criteria for lockdown to be lifted

The PM (pictured at an Orpington vaccination hub today) faced criticism from his backbenchers for including a low infection rate among the criteria for lockdown to be lifted

Just last week Health Secretary Matt Hancock was asked in the Commons if ‘the level of virus in circulation’ would be used to determine when lockdown can be lifted and replied: ‘No.’ 

He said there were only four conditions – understood to be progress in dealing with deaths, hospital admissions, new variants and the successful rollout of the vaccine.

Yesterday there were 230 deaths reported, the lowest since Boxing Day, hospital admissions have fallen 25 per cent in a week and more than 15million people have had their first dose of vaccine.

Last night Tory backbencher Sir Robert Syms said: ‘We keep getting mission creep. The risk the Government has is public opinion starts to change – people will say ‘I’ve had my jabs, why can’t I go to the pub?’

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said: ‘I think the Prime Minister has got too risk-averse, which is just as dangerous as being too optimistic.’

Philip Davies, another of the 63 Tory MPs who backed the Covid Recovery Group plan to lift all restrictions by the end of April, said: ‘If the Prime Minister and his scientific advisers think the public are going to sit around and wait for us to have no infections, they’re in cloud-cuckoo land.’

‘Encouraging’ UK vaccine data ‘shows jabs ARE bringing hospital admissions and deaths down’

‘Encouraging’ early data shows that coronavirus vaccines are bringing deaths and hospital admissions down – as cases drop below 10,000 for the first time since October and deaths fall by 30% in a week.

The Prime Minister has warned the public to be ‘optimistic but patient’ as he cautioned against cutting any corners when it comes to lifting the lockdown.

Boris Johnson struck a blunt tone last night as he warned that he wanted the current shutdown to be the last – while admitting he could not ‘guarantee’ that it would be.

Mr Johnson is planning to reveal the guts of his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown in a week’s time but is facing heavy pressure from politicians and industry leaders to raise restrictions as soon as possible. 

They see the announcement that the 15million vaccinations’ target being hit on time as a sign that lockdown can be totally lifted by May, with key sectors of the economy back on their feet much sooner. 

Coupled with that, Britain on Monday recorded just 9,765 coronavirus cases in the smallest daily rise since October, with 230 lab-confirmed deaths. Both daily tolls were down by 30 per cent on last Monday’s 14,104 infections and 333 fatalities. 

Ministers have been shown data that reveals Britain’s inoculation programme is cutting illness by roughly two thirds, and now preliminary figures comparing elderly people who have been vaccinated with those who have not show that deaths and hospital admissions are being cut, The Times reports. 

A separate study that tests healthcare workers for signs of asymptomatic infection also points towards lower rates for those who have had the jab, suggesting that the transmission rate is being lowered by the vaccine. 

Government sources stress that the data is preliminary.  

But across Britain, deaths seem to be falling, following a peak in cases roughly around the end of 2020. 

Those over age 80 make up half of hospital deaths, compared to roughly 56 per cent earlier in the year, analysis by the Covid Actuaries Response Group shows.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk