Boris Johnson held a press conference at 5pm this evening (5 April) to provide an update on the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown.
The prime minister also announced a massive expansion of the government’s testing regime, with everyone in England expected to be able to access two rapid Covid test kits per week from Friday (9 April).
One year to the day since Mr Johnson was taken into hospital suffering with Covid, the prime minister confirmed that the conditions have been met for England to move to the next stage of the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown next week.
The prime minister appeared alongside England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
Mr Johnson also addressed reports that the government is preparing to implement a Covid certification scheme, and that a number of mass event pilots will take place over the coming months.
Prior to the 5pm press conference the prime minister met with the Covid-O committee and the cabinet to finalise the announcements.
Covid press conference: Boris Johnson to address nation at 5pm
Last updated: Monday, 05 April, 2021, 17:20
Press conference to begin at 5pm
Join us shortly before 5pm for live coverage of today’s Downing Street Covid press conference, where Boris Johnson will be joined by Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance to discuss the next steps in relaxing lockdown.
What can we expect from the PM?
Mr Johnson is expected to set out the next steps out of lockdown in England, focusing on lockdown, travel and Covid passports.
How would vaccine passports work?
We’ll get confirmation of the details very soon, but some of the info on so-called vaccine passports has been widely trailed in the media.
Boris Johnson has said that a “Covid certification scheme” could involve showing whether a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus, has immunity from previously being infected with the virus, or has had a recent negative test.
He said that such a document “will be useful” within the UK, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also suggesting that vaccine passports could also be used “in the short term” to reopen theatres and sports stadiums”.
You can read more here.
Vaccine passports: what do you think?
The subject of vaccine passports hasn’t even been formally announced yet, but it’s already proved divisive, and understandably so.
On the one hand, it could be a simple way of returning to some kind of normality, allowing major events to take place and venues to reopen (to some).
On the other hand, it could create deeper inequality in society and major issues around civil liberty.
And that’s before you get to the practical challenge of enforcing it.
What do you think? You can join the debate on our Facebook page.
Boris Johnson due to speak soon
The Downing Street press conference is due to begin in the next few minutes
Covid deaths and new cases
The UK has reported 2,763 new cases of Covid and 26 deaths in new figures released today.
This means cases are down significantly, from 4,654 last Monday, and deaths within 28 days of a positive test are up slightly, from 23.
PM speaking now
Tonight’s press conference is underway, with the prime minister Boris Johnson thanking the public for their patience, “because it is really clear now that this is paying off”. Also says Gibraltar has become first place in world to offer vaccines to entire adult population.
England will move to next stage of lockdown roadmap
The PM says the UK will be able to move to the next phase of the roadmap out of lockdown.
He says, “on Monday 12th I will be going to the pub myself and...raising a pint of beer to my lips”.
Visitors to care homes
Care home residents will be able to see more of their loved ones, he says, announcing change in number of visitors permitted, from one to two.
PM thinks the changes are “fully justified” by the data. “But,” he says, “we can’t be complacent. We can see the waves of sickness afflicting other countries and we’ve seen how this story goes.”
“That’s why we’re saying please get your vaccine, or your second dose, when your turn comes.”
Also urges people to use free NHS test “even if you don’t feel ill” because “one in three people with the virus doesn’t have any symptoms”.
Four key reviews
PM says that four reviews will be published today, looking at key subjects.
- Safe return of major events
- Social distancing
- The “potential role” of Covid certification
- Resumption of international travel
“It is by being cautious, by monitoring the data ate every stage, and by following the rules, that we hope together to make this roadmap to freedom irreversible”
Chris Whitty will now take us through some of the data behind what PM was discussing.
Vaccine rollout continues apace
31.6 million people have received a first dose, and 5.4 million people have received a second-dose, says Chris Whitty.
It is heading “very much in the direction,” he says.
Vaccines are higly effective, but not completely effective
These vaccines are highly effective, but not completely effective, says Chris Whitty. “It is absolutely essential that everybody who is called for a second booster dose” takes that offer up, he says.
Hospitalisations and deaths down
Number of people in hospital with covid has been falling steadily and continues to fall. Alongside this, number of people dying has also been decreasing, and at a faster pace than happened in first peak. It may well be because of combination of lockdown measures, plus effects of vaccines, says Chris Whitty. Average number of deaths is around 47 per day, he says, down from 1300 earlier in the year.