Leeds news LIVE: Next stage of lockdown lifting will go ahead on April 12

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the next stage of lockdown lifting in England will be on April 12, when non-essential shops, hairdressers and gyms can reopen, and pubs and restaurants can start serving customers outdoors.

Monday, 5th April 2021, 5:35 pm
Boris Johnson (photo: PA)

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Last updated: Monday, 05 April, 2021, 17:51

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PM has begun his briefing:

The Prime Minister said he would be visiting a pub on April 12 as he confirmed the next stage of lockdown easing can go ahead.

Addressing a Downing Street press conference on Monday, Boris Johnson said: “The net result of your efforts and of course the vaccine rollout is that I can today confirm that from Monday April 12, we will move to step two of our road map.

“Reopening shops, gyms, zoos, holiday campsites, personal care services like hairdressers and of course beer gardens and outdoor hospitality of all kinds.

“And on Monday 12, I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips.”

Changes “fully justified”, says PM

Boris Johnson said the lockdown changes in England were “fully justified” but urged the public not to be complacent.

The Prime Minister told a Downing Street press briefing: “We think that these changes are fully justified by the data, which shows that we are meeting our four tests for easing the lockdown.

“But – and you know I’m going to say this – we can’t be complacent.

“We can see the waves of sickness afflicting other countries and we’ve seen how this story goes.

“We still don’t know how strong the vaccine shield will be when cases begin to rise, as I’m afraid they will, and that’s why we’re saying please get your vaccine or your second dose when the turn comes.

“And please use the free NHS tests even if you don’t feel ill.”

“We set out our road map and we’re sticking with it”

The Prime Minister said he did not think, based on the current data, that there would be any deviation from his road map out of lockdown.

Boris Johnson told a press briefing: “We set out our road map and we’re sticking with it.

“And I want to stress that we see nothing in the present data that makes us think that we will have to deviate from that road map.

“But it is by being cautious, by monitoring the data at every stage and by following the rules – remembering hand, face, space, fresh air – that we hope together to make this road map to freedom irreversible.”

“Vital” people take second vaccine dose

It is “vital” that people take up the offer of a second vaccine dose to increase their level of protection against Covid-19, England’s chief medical officer has said.

Professor Chris Whitty told a Downing Street press conference on Monday that data from across the UK showed an estimated 60% reduction in symptomatic disease in those who had been vaccinated.

He added there was also an 80% reduction in hospitalisations among those who had received their first dose.

Prof Whitty said: “That makes two points, firstly that these vaccines are highly effective, but secondly, they are not completely effective.

“And it is absolutely essential that everybody, as the Prime Minister has said, who is called for a second booster dose goes to take that offer up because it will increase the level of protection and almost certainly increase the duration of protection as well.”

No Covid passports needed for April 12

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there was “absolutely no question” of people having to show a vaccine passport to go to the pub or hairdresser when lockdown eases further on Monday.

He told a Downing Street briefing on Monday: “On Covid status certification, as we prefer to call it, the most important thing to say to everybody listening and watching is there’s absolutely no question of people being asked to produce certification or a Covid status report when they go to the shops or to the pub garden or to their hairdressers or whatever on Monday.

“And indeed we are not planning that for stage three either, May 17 as you know we are hoping to go for the opening up of indoor hospitality and so on.

“We are not planning for anything of that kind at that stage.”

The PM regularly uses lateral flow tests before going on visits

The Prime Minister said he regularly uses quick-result tests before visiting somewhere to check whether he has coronavirus as he urged the public in England to take up the offer of free tests.

Boris Johnson told a press briefing: “I think lateral flow testing will be a great advantage to us all as we go forward.

“I do a lateral flow test before I go out on a visit to test whether or not I might conceivably be infectious – I think it is a sensible thing to do.

“The NHS is now offering, as I say, these free tests and I think people should use them.”

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: “Lateral flow tests are effective at picking up people who are infectious – they are not 100% effective, so a negative doesn’t mean you haven’t absolutely got it but a positive is useful to identify those people who do need to isolate.

“Lateral flow tests are definitely part of a way of trying to pick up more people who wouldn’t have otherwise been picked up.”

Virus “will be with us for the foreseeable future"

Boris Johnson has praised the number of vaccines developed against Covid-19 as “the most stunning thing” in the year since his admission to hospital with the virus.

He told a Downing Street press conference: “A year on I’m actually filled with amazement that science has produced so many vaccines.

“I was a great believer and still am in the virtues of testing as a way through because I could see this thing would keep going and keep going for a long time, but I never thought that we would get so many workable vaccines in such a short order.”

Professor Chris Whitty added: “This virus will be with us for the foreseeable future, but as the Prime Minister just said, science, is over time, going to de-risk it and it’s doing so very substantially with vaccines.

“I think the thing which has surprised me, if anything, is the speed with which we’ve got the number of vaccines we have, rather than the fact we’ve still got the virus now, but we will have significant problems with Covid for the foreseeable future and I don’t think we should pretend otherwise.”

The UK must learn from other countries that are ahead in their vaccine rollout, England’s chief medical officer said.

Professor Chris Whitty told a Downing Street press conference on Monday that while Chile in South America had vaccinated a “significant” number of its population, its Covid-19 rates were not staying down.

He said: “Is this due to vaccines used? Is this due to the timing of when things have actually been rolled out? Is it due to particular interactions with other variants? We don’t yet know.

“We absolutely need to learn from those countries that are ahead of us or alongside us in terms of vaccine rollout.”

He added: “The assumption that you vaccinate lots of people and the problem goes away, I think Chile is quite a good corrective for that.”

PM hopeful international travel can resume next month

Boris Johnson said he was hopeful international travel could resume next month but he did not want to make “hostages of fortune”.

He told a Downing Street briefing on Monday: “Obviously we are hopeful that we can get going from May 17, we are hopeful.

“But I do not wish to give hostages to fortune or to underestimate the difficulty we are seeing in some of the destination countries people might want to go to.

“We don’t want to see the virus being reimported into this country from abroad.

“What we are going to do, the global travel taskforce is going to report back later this week, we will then being setting out well before May 17 what is reasonable.”

“ethical and practical issues” with vaccine passports, says PM:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there were “ethical and practical issues” with vaccine passports but some test events will be launched in the next few weeks.

He told a Downing Street briefing on Monday: “I want to stress there are complicated ethical and practical issues as I think I said last time raised by the idea of Covid status certification using vaccination alone.

“Many people will be for one reason or another unable to get a vaccine, for medical reasons for instance, or perhaps because they’re pregnant.

“So you have to be very careful how you handle this and don’t start a system that is discriminatory.

“But obviously we are looking at it – we want to be going ahead in the next few weeks with some test events, some pilot events. Big events, getting 20,000 people into Wembley on May 15, that kind of thing.

“Getting people back into theatre, that will unquestionably involve testing to allow the audience really to participate in the numbers that people want.”

Too soon to hug, says Whitty

UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said he expected regular hand washing and the recommendation for people to stay home from work if they feel ill to become “baselines” of social distancing in the future.

“On social distancing, I think one has to understand what that might mean longer term,” he told a Downing Street press conference.

“And it probably means things like hand hygiene and the fact people will take time off if they get ill and stay at home rather than going into work, testing to know if you’ve got it or not.

“Those sorts of things are likely to be important baseline measures going forward.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, asked about when hugging and other interactions could resume, said current coronavirus rates were still too high.

“The number of people who actually have the virus at the moment is about one in 370 so we really want to get those rates down further before we start to feel that society as a whole has a low level of Covid,” he said.

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