Boris Johnson’s Easter Monday press conference was a depressing affair, with the Prime Minister confirming that vaccine passports will be required to access large-scale events (like football games), warning that social distancing measures will have to remain in place after June 21st and a “traffic light” system will be unveiled on May 17th to determine which foreign countries we’re allowed to go to, if any. MailOnline has more.
Boris Johnson laid out a grim vision of coronavirus restrictions stretching into the future tonight amid fears his roadmap is being watered down.
The PM tried to strike a bullish tone saying the country’s hard work is “paying off” as he held an Easter Monday press briefing in Downing Street, confirming that shops can open on April 12th as planned.
Non-essential retail, gyms and hairdressers can get up and running, while bars, restaurants and cafes will be able to serve customers outdoors.
“On Monday 12th, I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips,” Mr Johnson said.
As he struggled to quell rising anxiety about when normal life might resume, he said: “We set out our roadmap and we are sticking with it… We see nothing [in] the present data that makes us think we will have to deviate from that roadmap.”
However, the Government’s SAGE experts and a series of reviews published this afternoon cast serious doubt on the prospects of returning to normal by the June 21st date previously proposed for a full lifting – and Mr Johnson himself seemed to scale back his rhetoric on “freedom day”.
New evidence released by the Government suggested that the relaxation could spark a fourth peak in outbreak.
A paper indicated that “baseline measures”, including some form of social distancing and masks, would need to remain in place until this time next year – while voicing “reasonable confidence” that Covid will be manageable by then.
It said the reopening of pubs, cinemas and indoor hospitality – due to happen on May 17th – could be called into question if vaccine uptake in the under-50s dips below 85%.
Meanwhile, separate updates on a series of reviews gave little more than holding positions – stopping short of confirming that non-essential foreign travel will be allowed from the earliest mooted date of May 17th, with a traffic light system of restrictions due to come into force when the blanket ban lifts.
Mr Johnson said he would not provide a “hostage to fortune” by giving any timeline.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, has branded Boris’s vision of Britain post-reopening a “hellish demi-lockdown”. He gave the following quotes to the Mail after the Prime Minister’s presser:
We were told the vaccine was the way out, no ifs, no buts. We can see from the data that the vaccine is working better than anyone had hoped, but now the scientists are saying the real issue is variants or a third wave.
They want to keep Project Fear going because they are enjoying the control they have, and ministers have caved in to them.
The result is we are headed for a hellish demi-lockdown, where we have to be tested all the time, carry a vaccine passport everywhere and are under the constant threat of being locked down again.