Politics

Boris Johnson speech LATEST – PM unveils lockdown roadmap at Downing Street with new Covid rules on pubs and households


BORIS Johnson has unveiled the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown to the public – with schools included in the first of four steps on March 8.

During a Downing Street press conference at 7pm today the Prime Minister outlined a covid plan he says will prioritise reopening schools and reuniting families.

The first date for the diary will be March 8 when schools will reopen and Brits can once again meet one friend or family member in an outside space for a picnic or a coffee.

Assuming all goes well with that easing, the next significant milestone will be March 29 when schools go on Easter Holiday.

At this point outdoors gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed, reuniting friends and extended family for the first time in months.

The same date will also see the return on outdoor sports such as tennis, golf, basketball and even football. People will at this point no longer be legally required to remain at home unless absolutely necessary.

Boris said that no earlier than the April 12, step two of the reopening will begin but could be delayed if the earlier steps see a surge in infections.

At this point, hairdressers, beauty parlours, gyms, public libraries and holiday lets will reopen and pubs will be able to reopen serving customers outdoors.

No earlier than five weeks after April 12, phase three of the lockdown pubs, bars and restaurants will be able to begin serving customers indoors.

Beyond that, Boris said he hopes for the rules of six can be scrapped altogether by June and the UK return to a true sense of normality, albeit with social distancing in place, by July.

But the PM made clear that for each step to be taken, benchmark numbers will need to be met on Covid cases, hospital admissions, vaccinations and deaths.

Follow our live blog below for the very latest on the UK ‘s path out of lockdown

  • LABOUR CRITICISES SIX MONTHS’ REPRIEVE FOR COMPANIES ON GENDER PAY GAP REPORTING

    The Labour Party has criticised the decision to delay enforcement action against companies that fail to report their gender pay gap by this year’s deadline.

    The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it will not begin enforcement proceedings against companies until six months after the deadline of April 4, the Guardian newspaper reported.

    The news was welcomed by the Government’s Equality Hub, which described the move to delay enforcement until October 4 as “the correct decision”.

    However, Labour’s shadow women and equalities secretary Marsha De Cordova disagreed with the decision and pushed for the Government to reinstate gender pay gap reporting sooner.

    The legal requirement for businesses with more than 250 employees to report their gender pay gaps was suspended last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • JOHNSON SAYS ‘SEASONS OF HOPE’ ARE APPROACHING AS HE SETS OUT LOCKDOWN ROAD MAP

    Boris Johnson has said England is approaching “seasons of hope” that will usher in changes making lives “incomparably better” as he set out a plan to ease the lockdown by June 21.

    The Prime Minister defended his “cautious but also irreversible” approach to relaxing restrictions with a four-step plan on Monday, arguing he will not be “buccaneering” with people’s lives.

    But despite billing his plans as a “one way road to freedom”, he admitted he could not guarantee that restrictions will not have to return, as he aims for the impact of the vaccination programme replacing the need for lockdown measures.

    He accepted that scientific modelling suggested that lifting measures will increase Covid-19 cases and ultimately deaths, but insisted the restrictions could not continue indefinitely.

    And he acknowledged that there are ethical issues around vaccine certificates, after launching a review to determine whether they could be used by venues or firms.

  • PM WARNS CLIMATE CHANGE POSES GRAVE THREAT TO GLOBAL PEACE AND SECURITY

    Climate change is a grave threat to global peace and security, Boris Johnson has warned ahead of a United Nations Security Council session on the issue.

    The Prime Minister, who is chairing the session on Tuesday, said a warming planet is driving insecurity, “from the communities uprooted by extreme weather and hunger, to warlords capitalising on the scramble for resources”.

    He called for action to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change and cutting global emissions to “net zero” – which requires huge cuts to greenhouse gases and any remaining pollution to be offset through measures such as planting trees – to protect prosperity and security.

    The UN Security Council (UNSC) session on climate and security will hear from Sir David Attenborough, who will say that if the world acts to bring down emissions with “sufficient vigour” it may avoid runaway climate change.

    The UN’s Cop26 climate summit being hosted by the UK in November in Glasgow could be the last opportunity to make the necessary step-change, the naturalist and broadcaster will warn the 15-member council in a video message

  • BORIS JOHNSON REFUSES TO GUARANTEE LOCKDOWN WILL BE ‘IRREVERSIBLE’

    The Prime Minister can’t guarantee that the lockdown will be “irreversible”, However he said “intention is that it should be and that’s why we’re going in the way that we are”.

    He continued: “A lot of people will say why don’t you go faster, or see if you can bring some of this earlier if things are going well and there are signs that the disease is continuing to retreat.

    “The answer to that, you’ve got to listen to what Chris and Patrick were saying about the need for an interval between the relaxations, and the need to look at the data and see what’s happened.

    “This variant is capable of spreading really very fast when you unlock. We saw that at the end of last year, we’ve seen how fast it can take off.

    “That’s why we’ve got to look at the way the vaccinations are going, the way the data is looking, and then proceed cautiously, but I certainly hope irreversibly.”

  • CHRIS WHITTY WARNS OF ‘RAPID SURGE IN INFECTIONS’ IF PEOPLE RELAX TOO EARLY

    Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty urged the public to stick to the rules as lockdown is eased, warning of a “very rapid surge in infection” if they relax too early.

    He said there are still “very significant” numbers of people with coronavirus every day and many people still in hospital with the disease, but said now is the point for a “steady, risk-based, data-driven opening up”.

    Professor Whitty added that coronavirus was “likely to be a problem” during the winter months “for the next few winters”.

    The Government launched a review looking at the use of “Covid status” certificates, which could be used by people to demonstrate they had received a jab or a negative coronavirus test in order to enter venues, or allow firms to reduce restrictions as a result of the status of their customers.

    Mr Johnson said there are “clearly some quite complex issues, some ethical issues” including discrimination surrounding them, but added: “There may well be a role for certification but we just need to get it right.”

  • MINISTERS TO REVIEW WHETHER ‘DISCRIMINATORY’ VACCINE PASSPORTS SHOULD BE ALLOWED

    There will be a review into whether vaccine passports could be deployed as part of the road map for releasing the lockdown, the Prime Minister has confirmed.

    Boris Johnson said the Government wanted to determine whether offering “Covid status certificates” could help venues to open again.

    Senior ministers have frequently appeared to dismiss the idea of introducing vaccine passports in the UK.

    Nadhim Zahawi, the Government’s vaccines minister, labelled them “discriminatory” as ministers looked to persuade the public to take up the offer of a jab without the threat of being barred from entering hospitality or other venues if they do not get inoculated against Covid-19.

    But the Prime Minister on Monday confirmed that a study into the use of vaccine and testing certificates will be one of four reviews conducted as part of easing the current restrictions.

  • LOVE ISLAND’S DR ALEX GEORGE HAILS ‘REAL GLIMMER OF HOPE’ OFFERED BY ROAD MAP

    Former Love Island contestant and Government adviser Dr Alex George has hailed news that coronavirus restrictions could finally be lifted by June 21 as “a real glimmer of hope”.

    The A&E doctor, who appeared on the ITV reality programme in 2018, was appointed as a youth mental health ambassador earlier this year.

    He described the four-stage plan, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, as “a real glimmer of hope”.

    He wrote on Instagram: “WE HAVE A DATE FOR THE DIARY. All going well we could see an end to restrictions on the 21st of June. This is SUCH good news and a real glimmer of hope.

    “Let’s use this motivation to keep going, look after ourselves, protect the NHS and move forward with a clear goal in sight.”

  • TORY MP CALLS FOR ALL MINISTERS TO RETURN TO COMMONS ASAP

    Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall (Totnes) called for all MPs to return to the Commons as soon as possible.

    He told the House: “Now I would like to just finish with the fact that we are asking teachers on 8 March to return to their places of work and to teach children.

    “I think we could serve a very good example by doing the same.”

    Mr Mangnall added that he is “one of the handful of MPs who have not used the virtual system in any way – I have not used a proxy vote, I have not used the virtual system”.

    He continued: “We need to hold the Government to account on all manner of things and it will do us justice if we can actually decide to have proper debate.”

  • PM SAYS ‘CITIES WILL BOUNCE BACK ONCE ROADMAP IS DELIVERED’

    Mr Johnson told tonight’s Downing Street press conference: “It may be that there’s opportunities for more residential accommodation in high streets, in town centres which have been changing the way they work for a long time.

    “But I don’t believe this is going to mean a fundamental change to the way that life in our bigger cities works.

    “The more people can see each other and talk on mobile devices, the more they want to see each other face-to-face for whatever reason. And I’m sure that will come back and I think London, and our great cities, will be full of buzz and life again provided people have confidence to come back into them.

    “It’s all going to be about confidence which is going to come from the continuing success of the vaccination programme.

    It’s become something like flu which we’re going to have to manage and live with, and then you’ll really see life coming back to normal again. Our great cities will bounce back once we’ve got this roadmap delivered.”

  • RISHI SUNAK TO EXTEND FURLOUGH ‘UNTIL AT LEAST JULY’

    Rishi Sunak is set to extend furlough until at least July, The Sun can reveal.

    The Chancellor will cough up mega bucks at next week’s Budget to throw a lifeline to workers whose businesses are forced to stay closed.

    Read more here.

  • CHRIS WHITTY EXPLAINS WHAT NEW STUDIES SAY ABOUT EFFECTIVENESS OF COVID VACCINES

    Chris Whitty explains what new studies say about effectiveness of Covid vaccines
  • TEAROOM HONOUR FOR PARLIAMENTARY WORKER WHO DIED AFTER CONTRACTING COVID-19

    A tearoom for MPs is expected to be renamed in honour of a parliamentary worker who died after contracting Covid-19.

    Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle led tributes to Julia Clifford, commonly known on the parliamentary estate as Julie, who died last week having getting the virus after “bravely fighting cancer”. He told MPs he has asked the House authorities to consider renaming the Members’ Tea Room in her honour.

    MPs heard Ms Clifford, 54, joined the Commons in October 1985 and was a “very hard-working and popular member” of the parliamentary family who “always had a smile and time for everybody”.

    Sir Lindsay added: “She will be greatly missed and in her honour I have asked the House authorities to consider renaming the Members’ Tea Room to Julie’s Tea Room.

    “Our condolences go to her husband John and to her sons, Ben and Jack and the rest of the family.”

    Julia Clifford with the House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle
    Julia Clifford with the House of Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay HoyleCredit: PA:Press Association
  • STEVE BAKER SAYS ‘MODELLING, NOT DATA’ DRIVING GOVERNMENT DECISIONS

    Conservative former minister Steve Baker said that it seems to be “modelling, not data” driving the Government’s decisions.

    He told MPs: “We asked the Government for a road to recovery starting on March 8 and I’m very pleased that the Government has now set it out, but today’s pace of change will be a hammer blow for aviation, for pubs, for restaurants, hotels, gyms and pools, the arts and the establishment.

    “Once again, it seems to be modelling, not data, which is driving the Government’s decisions. Now time and again we’ve seen that modelling used for serious Covid decisions has been taken apart retrospectively.

    “One of the four models used by the Government to illustrate the need for the second national lockdown predicted a thousand deaths on November 1, the day after it was presented to the public when the actual death number was just over 200 on November 1.”

  • FORMER TORY HEALTH MINISTER CLAIMS ‘LOCKDOWNS DON’T WORK’

    Conservative former health minister Jackie Doyle-Price claimed “lockdowns don’t work” as she pressed the Government to be “much more ambitious” in relaxing restrictions.

    She told the Commons: “My fundamental concern is that with each day that goes by, we really must make sure we lift those restrictions as soon as possible, because the truth of the matter is no government should restrict the rights and liberties of its subjects without being able to demonstrate the outcome – and I’m afraid demonstrating the effectiveness of these lockdowns has been rather poor.

    “There is no evidence that the curfew saved any lives, we know there’s been 2% of transmission for what are now Covid-secure venues.

    “We know that when we went into November lockdown we came out with higher rates because schools remained open and they were the agents of transmission into people’s households and into people’s businesses.

    “The truth is lockdowns don’t work, but we have the key to deal with this virus through the vaccinations, and I think this Government needs to be much more ambitious than the route map that’s been laid before us today in order that we take full advantage of that to secure our freedom again.”

  • WHITTY CONFIDENT BOTH COVID JABS GIVE GOOD LEVELS OF PROTECTION ACROSS ALL AGE GROUPS

    Professor Chris Whitty said he is “confident” both Covid jabs provide significant protection across all age groups from the first dose.

    England’s chief medical officer said the link between rising infections and deaths was being broken by the vaccine blitz.

    He also praised the public’s “extraordinary levels of uptake” – with well over 90 per cent of people so far taking up the offer.

    Speaking at the Downing Street press conference, Prof Whitty said: “Until we had vaccination the inevitable result of cases rising was elderly people’s cases rising, hospitalisations rising and deaths rising.

    “The advantage of the vaccination is it allows us to break that absolute inexorability that there was up to this point in time, and above all to protect those who are most vulnerable from hospitalisation and death.”

  • WHITTY SLAPS DOWN REPORTS THAT HE AS UNHAPPY OVER SCHOOL REOPENING?

    Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty came out to unequivocally back the reopening of schools.

    He furiously slapped down reports he had been wobbly about the March 8 reopening.

    He told the No10 press conference: “It is absolutely universally accepted that there are huge advantages for children to be in school, from a health point of view, mental and physical, as well as from educational and from a life force point of view.

    “Those are overwhelming and they are not in any dispute, everyone accepts that.

    “If you keep children out of school, every single one of the children you keep out of school is disadvantaged.”

     

  • SIR PATRICK VALLANCE: VACCINES CREATED A ‘BEDROCK’ FOR LOCKDOWN ROADMAP

    The Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the success of the vaccination programmes created a “bedrock” to ease lockdown restrictions in England.

    At the Downing Street briefing, he said: “The miracle of the vaccines is extraordinary.

    “That provides an extraordinary bedrock of success from which to think about moving to a normality as a result of that.

    “And the way to do that is to go cautiously as you release, have enough time in between measures to assess what’s going on and take new measures to release when you’re safe to do so, not beforehand.”

  • BORIS SAYS IT ‘IS NOT THE END TODAY’

    Boris Johnson said: “This is not the end today but it is very clearly a road map that takes us to the end.”

    He told a Downing Street press conference it would be a “one-way journey, we very much hope”.

  • WATCH: PROFESSOR CHRIS WHITTY SAYS THERE IS A LOT OF RISK IN LIFTING LOCKDOWN

    Professor Chris Whitty says there is a lot of risk in lifting lockdown
  • PM: VACCINE PASSPORTS ‘MAY HAVE A ROLE’ IN THE FUTURE

    When asked about the vaccine passport, Mr Johnson says “there are clearly some quite complex issues, about discrimination, some ethical issues, and so on.”

    “All that needs to be gone into, so we’re going to have a review of that issue before we come to it,” he continued:

    “At the moment the emphasis is on vaccinating all adults, and that’s the nondiscriminatory way to go.

    “There may well be a role for certification, we just need to get it right. And always remember the advantages of lateral-flow testing.”

    He added: In the course of the coming steps, we’ll be setting out more on issues like air travel, on mass events, on social distancing and on certification.”

  • CHRIS WHITTY: RISK OF REOPENING SCHOOLS IS ‘INCREDIBLY LOW’

    Mr Whitty said: “One of the few good things about Covid is that the risks are so much smaller than they are for adults.”

    “The residual risk is strongly in favour from a child’s point of view of going to school and the data on that are unambiguous.”

  • CHRIS WHITTY: PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO GET USED TO CORONAVIRUS

    England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said people would have to get used to coronavirus, in the same way as flu and pneumonia, which kill thousands each year.

    He told a Downing Street press conference: “Every year in the UK, as in every other country, you get substantial numbers of people dying from respiratory infections.”

    Flu kills around 9,000 a year, and bad years are “significantly more”, but there are also pneumonia and adenoviruses and other respiratory infections.

    “I’m afraid, for the foreseeable future, coronavirus is going to be added to that list of things that those who are vulnerable – even despite vaccination – can be at risk of,” he said.

    Prof Whitty said it was “likely to be a problem, in particular, in the winter for the next few winters”.

  • PM: WE HOPE FOR A ONE-WAY JOURNEY

    Boris Johnson said: “This is not the end today but it is very clearly a road map that takes us to the end.”

    He told a Downing Street press conference it would be a “one-way journey, we very much hope”.

  • BORIS JOHNSON REFUSES TO GUARANTEE LOCKDOWN WILL BE ‘IRREVERSIBLE’

    The Prime Minister can’t guarantee that the lockdown will be “irreversible”, However he said “intention is that it should be and that’s why we’re going in the way that we are”.

    He continued: “A lot of people will say why don’t you go faster, or see if you can bring some of this earlier if things are going well and there are signs that the disease is continuing to retreat.

    “The answer to that, you’ve got to listen to what Chris and Patrick were saying about the need for an interval between the relaxations, and the need to look at the data and see what’s happened.

    “This variant is capable of spreading really very fast when you unlock. We saw that at the end of last year, we’ve seen how fast it can take off.

    “That’s why we’ve got to look at the way the vaccinations are going, the way the data is looking, and then proceed cautiously, but I certainly hope irreversibly.”

  • CHRIS WHITTY: VACCINES CAN ‘BREAK LINK’ BETWEEN R RATE AND INCREASED DEATHS

    Chris Whitty says vaccines can break the “absolute” link between the R rate and an increase in deaths.

    “We all know that there will be – even with one-at-a-time measures – a surge of cases, and R is going to creep closer to 1, it might exceed 1 and at that point we will expect to start to see cases rising,” he says.

    “But the vaccination takes a lot of the heavy lifting on this. And our expectation is that will pull the natural R that it can get to well down. And secondly even from this stage, a very high proportion of elderly and vulnerable people are protected by the vaccination.”

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