UK coronavirus LIVE: Boris Johnson giving Downing Street briefing after revealing life could be almost back to normal by June 21 as he unveils roadmap out of Covid lockdown
oris Johnson is leading a Downing Street briefing after earlier revealing his roadmap to bring England out of lockdown.
Mr Johnson, laying his “roadmap” out of lockdown to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, also revealed from April 12 at the earliest shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will be allowed to reopen.
Jason Groves, from Daily Mail asks if they can reassure parents that schools are safe?
Prof Whitty said he was surprised to read reports of things that he didn’t say in the press. He said children need schools for mental health wellbeing and every single child out of school is disadvantaged.
“The risk to children is incredibly low from going to schools.
“The fall in the R rate there is headroom to go ahead. We have a natural firebreak in easter holidays and 5 weeks to see how it’s going. “We will be using more tests and masks and a variety of other things supported by the teaching profession.”
Teachers aren’t a high-risk profession, he adds.
Boris says he can see spring but he won’t be buccaneering with peoples lives and this roadmap strikes a balance.
Sam Coates from Sky asks how do we know this is irreversible? Will you resign if we go back into lockdown?
Boris replies: “Sam, I can’t guarantee this is going to be irreversible but that is the intention. A lot of people will say why don’t you go faster or bring this unlocking earlier if things are going well. But you just have to listen to Chris and the need of an interval, to look at the data.
“This variant is capable of spreading very fast when you unlock. I certainly hope its irreversible, we don’t want another lockdown. We need security and certainty for people and businesses.”
Prof Vallance praises the miracle of vaccines adding we need a gradual release back to normality “based on that bedrock of vaccine effectiveness”.
Robert Peston from ITV asks what rate of infection will cause alarm? And vaccine passports?
Prof Whitty says vaccination breaks the cycle of elderly hospitalisations and deaths.
“At some point at every one of these stages, R is going to creep closer to 1. But vaccinations take a lot of the heavy lifting, and we are expecting a high proportion of people will be vaccinated.”
“Boris says vaccine passports will be insisted upon in international travel likened to yellow fever jab. There are complex ethical issues on discrimination how can Govs compel or forbid such certification. We are going to have a review of the whole issue. The moment the focus is on vaccinating every adult.
“There may be a role for certification but we need to get it right. And remember the quick lateral flow tests will play their parts.”
Laura Kuenssberg from the BBC asks when will you say to the public it’s over. Asks how many people will die lifting lockdown?
Boris says: “This is not the end this is the roadmap. It’s important to be cautious and recognise people would rather certainty around these dates than haste. That’s the trade-off obviously.”
Prof Whitty says numbers of deaths aren’t helpful. He said every year people die of flu and other respiratory diseases and coronavirus will be added to that long list.
“We have vaccines for flu but there are still deaths. It will be a problem for the next few winters.”
He added vaccinating children is a long way off.
“The uptake from almost every part of society has been incredibly high… well over 90%.”
Sir Patrick says as the UK moves through the vaccine rollout, the public should be doing a “bit” more, not a “lot” more
Rachel from London asks Boris whether he will help vaccinate poorer countries
Boris coughs before answering: “Yes Rachel it’s very important that the UK will support vaccine rollout across the whole world.
“There is no point of people just having vaccinations in one country, it’s a global pandemic we need a global vaccination plan.”
David from Cardiff asks what the plan is in second doses?
The PM replies: “We need supply in place for the second vaccination in 12 weeks and for every adult by the end of July. We do believe we have the rhythms in place to keep to that timetable. We are looking to source more from our suppliers. That is the plan David.”
Prof Whitty hails effects of the vaccine
People older than 65 make up 58 per cent of hospital patients, Professor Whitty adds.
But people under 65 still make up 42% – they are still unvaccinated – and that is significant, he says.
He notes the Siren study on healthcare workers which showed that 72% reduction in infections after 21 days and one dose of vaccine. This rises to 86% with second dose.
‘The great majority of those who die of Covid-19 are in the top one to nine vaccine priority groups’
At this stage we have vaccinated the great majority of people in the top four groups, Prof Whitty adds.
“The largest of those are in groups 1-4 aged over 70. We anticipate the death rate will start to fall not just because of lockdown but because of effects of vaccination.
“We are now on 50-69 and people who have significant health problems.”
Boris wants to strike balance
He said: “I know there are some who want to accelerate the stages and others who want to stay in the slow lane. I understand both points of view and I sympathise but levels of infection are still high.
“And we have to be humble in the face of nature. We cannot persist indefinitely with limits that have separated families for too long and kept pupils out of school.”
“Spring and Summer I think will be seasons of hope. Looking and feeling incomparably better for us all and from which we will not go back.”
Boris – ‘We are on one-way road to freedom’
Boris Johnson opens by praising the 17.7million vaccinations across the UK a year after the pandemic he adds this “unparalleled national effort has shifted the tides in our favour”.
“We are on a one-way road to freedom.”
He adds “we’ve got to be realistic, there will be more infections, hospitalisation, and sadly deaths – just as there are every year with flu.”
He reiterates the stages of lockdown reversal will be five weeks apart so they can judge the effectiveness of vaccines, variants and NHS pressures.