Boris Johnson praised for ending lockdown by Mark Dolan
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The Prime Minister held a press conference today where he announced his intention to push ahead with the July 19 reopening of society. For the first time since March 2020 nightclubs in England will be allowed to reopen, limits on social contact will be eliminated and the wearing of masks in public places will no longer be obligatory.
But ITV’s Political Editor has pointed to the rising number of daily Covid infections while more and more Britons are inoculated.
So far, 64 percent of the UK population have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
ONS data based on swabs collected from randomly selected households showed a 72 percent rise in the number of Covid cases last week compared to the previous seven days.
Mr Peston said: “Everywhere in my life – within my family, friendships, workplace – somebody I know has Covid-19 or is in quarantine.
“If this is a foretaste of ‘living with Covid-19’ – as Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid wish us to do after all mandatory restrictions and protections are removed on 19 July – it is stressful and messy.
“The PM and health secretary say the return to this so-called normal will be good for the economy, good for jobs, good for our mental health.
“That feels a challenging claim when the virus is raging – as it is – and businesses have no idea who will be turning up for work tomorrow.”
He added: “The PM is taking a significant risk today.
“Hospitalisations are significantly lower than during previous waves, but they are now rising again.
“The rolling weekly rate of increase in admissions to hospitals has doubled in just a few days from 10 percent to almost 25percent. This is troubling. It is not an anomaly.”
Statistics from the ONS showed the Delta variant of Covid is driving a sharp rise in case numbers.
Speaking earlier today, Mr Johnson said cases could hit 50,000 per day by July 19, which has been dubbed “Freedom Day”.
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But he stressed that now is a better time to reopen – with schools set to close for summer holidays – than in winter when the deadly virus would have a better environment in which to thrive.
The Prime Minister said: “We must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves when will we be able to return to normal?
“We will move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus.”
Writing on Twitter, Mr Peston also wrote: “Boris Johnson says he wants to return to ‘normal’ and lift all restrictions now because the pandemic is likely to worsen in winter, so if not now then when?
“With infections surging to expected 50k a day in a fortnight, and not everyone vaccinated, what do you make of the logic?”
Speaking to the Commons today, Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said millions of people could not be expected to put their lives on hold much longer.
He said: “The situation with Covid-19 can change, and it can change quickly, but we cannot put our lives on hold forever.”
He said vaccines have “severely weakened” the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths.
Mr Javid argued that society can now begin to “live with Covid” without the need for the “extraordinary” restrictions first imposed in March 2020.
Mr Johnson has warned people not to be reckless.
He said: “I didn’t want people to feel that this is, as it were, the moment to get demob happy … it is very far from the end of dealing with this virus.
“Obviously, if we do find another variant that doesn’t respond to the vaccines…then clearly, we will have to take whatever steps we need to do to protect the public.”
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer hit out at his plan, calling it reckless.
He said the requirement to wear face masks on public transport should remain after July 19.
He said: “Simply throwing off all protections when the infection rate is going up is reckless.”
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