Speaking from Downing Street this afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has laid out the final stage in relaxing lockdown rules. While a final decision is due to come on July 12, from July 19 most Covid restrictions will be lifted – including working from home guidance scrapped, nightclubs reopening and no legal requirement to wear facemasks. The PM also announced the 12-week gap between Covid vaccines would be reduced.
Mr Johnson said the pandemic is “far from over” and will not be over by July 19, with a potential 50,000 cases detected a day by that date.
He told the Downing Street press conference: “We’re seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves sadly to more deaths from Covid.
“In these circumstances, we must take a careful and a balanced decision. And there’s only one reason why we can contemplate going ahead to step four in circumstances where we’d normally be locking down further, and that’s because of the continuing effectiveness of the vaccine rollout.”
He said the expectation remains that by July 19 every adult in the UK will have had the offer of a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and two-thirds will have had a second dose.
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Can you bring your vaccine appointment forward?
If you want a sooner appointment for your second jab, there is one way to bring it forward.
Mark Ford, who is helping deliver the National Booking Service for the Covid-19 vaccine at NHSDigital, tweeted: “If you want to bring your second vaccine dose forward, but haven’t because you have to cancel your appointment first… you can use the new availability checker before you cancel to make sure you’ll get an appointment sooner.”
All you need to do is go on to the NHS website, enter your appointment reference number and select ‘cancel or book’ their current date and time.
This will then show you availability for the vaccination centre you have chosen.
If there is a suitable date and time available, you will have to proceed to cancel your current appointment before being able to book a new one.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said vaccines are “building a wall of protection against hospitalisation”.
Giving a statement in the Commons, Sajid Javid said: “Yet today, even though cases are heading upwards in line with what we expected, hospitalisations are increasing at a much lower rate and deaths are at just one percent of the figure we saw at the peak.
“Our vaccines are building a wall of protection against hospitalisation, and jab by jab, brick by brick that wall is getting higher.”
He added “86 percent of UK adults have had at least one jab and 64 percent have had two.
“We are reinforcing our vaccine wall of defence further still.
“I can tell the House that we are reducing the dose interval for under-40s from 12 weeks to eight.
“Which will mean that every adult should have had the chance to be doubled jabbed by mid-September”.
The Government is also considering whether to give a booster vaccine for coronavirus along with the flu jab over the winter.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told MPs: “Because of the measures in place this winter, almost nobody in the UK had flu for 18 months now, that’s obviously a good thing but it does mean that immunity from flu is down.
“This winter’s flu campaign will be more important than ever and we’re currently looking at whether we can give people the Covid-19 booster shot and the flu jab at the same time.”
He said the most vulnerable would be offered a third dose from September.
Mr Javid said: “Step four is the next step in our country’s journey out of this pandemic.
“I know that after so many difficult months it’s a step that many of us will look upon with a great deal of caution, but it is one that we will all take together with a growing wall of defence against this virus, a wall that each and every one of us can help build. It’s vital that each of us plays our part to protect ourselves and to protect others into better days ahead.”