Boris Johnson won’t rule out MORE lockdowns after July 19 but insists we’re ‘looking good’ for Freedom Day
BORIS Johnson today grimly refused to rule out imposing future lockdowns as he braced Brits for a “rough winter”.
Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updatesOn a visit to a Hertsfordshire lab the PM hailed science as the “great liberator”[/caption]
On a visit to a Hertsfordshire lab the PM hailed science as the “great liberator” paving a path back to freedom.
He said ministers were pressing ahead with their “cautious but irreversible” roadmap.
Yet grilled about the prospect of future lockdowns, the PM said: “You can never exclude that there will be some new disease, some new horror that we simply haven’t budgeted for, or accounted for.
“But looking at where we are, looking at the efficacy of the vaccines against all variants that we can currently see – so Alpha, Delta, the lot of them, Kappa – I think it’s looking good for July 19 to be that terminus point.”
Last week the cautious PM delayed Freedom Day by four weeks so more Brits can be vaccinated before flinging off the restraints.
Lockdown-hating MPs – furious restrictions weren’t torn up today as scheduled back in February – are already agitating for the new roadmap to be accelerated.
Boris Johnson appeased hawkish backbenchers with a two-week break clause to allow wriggle room for an early unlocking on July 5.
But today he poured cold water on using it – suggesting the four-week window will allow the Government to get a grip on Covid ahead of the annual seasonal flu outbreak.Last week the cautious PM delayed Freedom Day by four weeks[/caption]
Mr Johnson said: “I think what the scientists are saying is that things like flu will come back this winter, we may have a rough winter for all sorts of reasons, and obviously there are big pressures on the NHS.
“All the more reason to reduce the number of Covid cases now, give the NHS the breathing space it needs to get on with dealing with all those other pressures, and we are certainly going to be putting in the investment to make sure that they can.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock today announced that plans for autumn booster jabs will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
He also said ministers were mulling plans to let double-jabbed Brits swap quarantine for lateral flow tests.
Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast the approach is being piloted “to check that that will be effective, but it is something that we’re working on”.
He added: “We’re not ready to be able to take that step yet, but it’s something that I want to see and we will introduce, subject to clinical advice, as soon as it’s reasonable to do so.”
Asked whether the remaining restrictions are likely to be lifted before the new England road map date of July 19, Mr Hancock said experts will examine the figures shortly.
He said: “We are looking at the data, and we’ve said that we’ll take a specific look two weeks into the four-week delay that we had to put in place to get more people vaccinated, so we’ll do that.
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“But I have every confidence that the more people get vaccinated, the easier it is (and) the safer it is to lift restrictions.
“We had to have the delay in order to get more people vaccinated, especially those second vaccines to protect people, we’re being careful, we’re being cautious.
“But I have a high degree of confidence that this vaccine is going to get us out of this, and the more people who come forward, the easier that will be.”
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