England “extremely close” to easing lockdown restrictions, says Boris Johnson – POLITICO


England are “extremely close” to easing the majority of their lockdown restrictions within a week, Boris Johnson said ahead of a press conference on Monday in which he is expected to outline the government’s final thoughts.

The British Prime Minister – who is aiming for the end of most coronavirus restrictions in England on July 19 – said in a statement released ahead of the press conference that public caution remained “absolutely vital” as the country is preparing for a hike in cases.

Johnson has vowed to remove social distancing rules in most scenarios, end mandatory wearing of face coverings and drop legal restrictions on gatherings, including weddings and funerals in England next week.

However, the easing depends on meeting the government’s “four tests” to loosen COVID restrictions. Johnson’s Downing Street press conference on Monday afternoon will take stock of the situation. Health Secretary Sajid Javid is also due to brief Parliament.

The four government tests are the continued success of the UK vaccination campaign; evidence that jabs are effective enough to reduce the number of deaths and hospitalizations among those who have received them; infection rates that do not risk an increase in hospitalizations that would overwhelm the National Health Service; and a judgment that the new coronavirus variants do not fundamentally change the picture.

Johnson will present the latest data on Monday, with No.10 warning on Sunday evening that COVID cases are expected to increase as restrictions are relaxed, and that hospitalizations, serious illness and deaths will continue “although at a much higher level. lower than before “the vaccination program.

Just under two-thirds (65.6%) of the UK’s adult population have now received both doses of the vaccine, the latest figures show, with the government already delaying an easing of restrictions due in June for June for allow more progress. . Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland end theirs brakes on another timescale.

“We are woefully close to the last step on our roadmap to get out of lockdown, but the plan to restore our freedoms must come with a warning,” Johnson said.

He added: “Cases will increase as we unlock, so as we confirm our plans today, our message will be clear. Caution is absolutely vital, and we all need to take responsibility so as not to undo our progress, making sure we continue to protect our NHS. “

The opposition Labor Party has questioned some elements of the government’s reopening strategy, opposing the abandonment of compulsory mask wearing while agreeing that the lifting of restrictions should take place on July 19.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green warned Sunday that the shift to personal responsibility for masks was a “recipe for confusion” and “perhaps a recipe for more confrontation.” She argued that it would be “much clearer and simpler for the government to maintain the mandatory wearing of masks in public places after July 19”.

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