“I think it’s looking good for the 19th of July to be that terminus point,” the PM says, but warns the UK could be in for a “rough winter”
Prime minister Boris Johnson has said it is “looking good” for the 19th of July to be the “terminus point” for England’s coronavirus restrictions, but did not rule out the prospect of further coronavirus lockdowns in the winter.
“You can never exclude that there will be some new disease, some new horror that we simply haven’t budgeted for or accounted for,” the Prime Minister said when he was asked if he could discount the possibility of re-imposing coronavirus lockdown measures later this year.
“But looking at where we are, at the efficacy of the vaccines against all variants that we can currently see, I think it’s looking good for the 19th of July to be that terminus point.”
Boris Johnson said that the UK could be in for a “rough winter for all sorts of reasons”.
This comes after plans for a COVID-19 booster jab programme in the autumn will be set out in the next few weeks, Matt Hancock has now said. The UK’s health secretary has said that government ministers were waiting for results from the trials of different combinations of the different vaccines.
He continued: “Obviously there are big pressures on the NHS, which is 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.
“We’re certainly going to be putting in the investment to make sure that they can.”
UK Government adviser Dr Susan Hopkins has warned at the weekend that there may be the need for further acovid-19 lockdowns in the winter if hospitals in the nation become “overwhelmed” at some point.
Boris Johnson also played down the prospect of any coronavirus restrictions in England being lifted early.
When he announced the four-week postponement of the fourth step of England’s roadmap out of lockdown, by pushing it from the 21st of June to the 19th of July, the Prime Minister said a review would take place on the 5th of July to see whether action could be taken sooner.
But while Mr Johnson said that the vaccination rollout was “going gangbusters”, case numbers of the Delta variant of the coronavirus were “sadly going up still”.
“We’ve got to be cautious, but we’ll be following the data the whole time.”
Number 10 has also sought to dampen down the suggestions of an early unlocking, with the Prime Minister’s spokesman telling reporters that: “We will monitor case data day by day to see if moving forward after two weeks is possible.
“You’ll see the data we are looking at – 10,000 cases recorded for the third day in a row on Saturday, which is the highest level since 2 February.
“The seven-day average for hospitalisations also continues to rise. ICU intake is also rising.”
This comes after the UK government is considering relaxing the current travel restrictions that surround international travel for Britons who have had received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK’s Business Secretary, said earlier on Monday that the lifting restrictions within England two weeks before the set date was “unlikely”.
Generally, we have stuck to the dates we have set. I think now I am very focused on 19 July,” he said.
Mr Johnson also confirmed that the government was “looking at” possibly exempting those who have been received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine from having to quarantine after they have returned from travel abroad.