Boris Johnson said he could see “nothing in the data” to mean that the 21st of June easing of coronavirus measures can’t go ahead
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he will not hesitate to move countries off of the green travel list, but he could see “nothing in the data” to mean that the 21st of June easing of coronavirus measures can’t go ahead.
The fourth and final stage of the PM’s roadmap for the easing of coronavirus rules, dubbed “freedom day” and when the UK government aims to remove all legal limits on social contact, is scheduled to take place in under three weeks.
This comes after the easing of coronavirus restrictions has been paused for millions in Scotland, but rules will be relaxed within Glasgow from Saturday. Most of the country had been due to take the step down to level one in the Scottish five-tier system from next week.
But, in recent days, Boris Johnson has faced growing calls from scientists to delay the full lifting of coronavirus restrictions due to the transmission of the Indian variant of COVID-19, which is believed to be more transmissible than other strains, within the UK.
Speaking within Downing Street on Wednesday, Mr Johnson appeared positive about the prospects of his roadmap remaining on track for the 21st of June.
Yet he stressed that there was a need to be “cautious” due to “ambiguous” data on how successful the country’s vaccine programme would be in combatting the new surge in coronavirus infections.
“I can see nothing in the data at the moment that means we can’t go ahead with step four of the opening on the 21st of June,” he said.
“But we’ve got to be so cautious because there’s no question the ONS (Office for National Statistics) data of infection rates is showing an increase.
“We always knew that was going to happen. Don’t forget we always said the unlocking steps that we’ve taken would lead to increases in infection.
“What we need to work out is to what extent the vaccination programme has protected enough of us – particularly the elderly and vulnerable – against a new surge.
“There, I’m afraid, the data is just still ambiguous and so every day we’re having long sessions where we’re interrogating all the data, we’re looking at all the various models.
“And the best the scientists can say at the moment, in their guidance to us, is that we just need to give it a little bit longer.”
This comes after the UK government is considering paying teachers to add an extra 30 minutes to school days in England under leaked proposals, in order to help pupils overcome a year of disruption that was caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that the wait for a clear answer would be “frustrating” for people ahead of the fourth stage in his roadmap, which is set to see nightclubs reopening and larger events once again being permitted.
Meanwhile, with the UK government’s first review of its traffic light system, put in place for foreign travel is expected this week, Johnson said that he would have “no hesitation” in moving the countries around the red, amber and green lists.
However, asked whether more countries could be added to the green list for quarantine-free in order to open up to more destinations for Britons that are hoping to book a summer holiday abroad, Mr Johnson told people to “wait and see”.