Health secretary Savid Javid has said 19 July “is the start of an exciting new journey” as the country plans to exit the roadmap out of lockdown after a month-long delay.
Javid made his first Commons appearance in his new role on 28 June after replacing Matt Hancock as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
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At a glance: 5 key points
- Javid told MPs Step 4 of England’s road map out of lockdown would not be brought forward but “we see no reason to go beyond the 19th of July.”
- Javid highlighted the difficulties posed by the Delta variant, first identified in India, and said the Government is using the four-week delay in easing restrictions in England to “protect as many people as we can”
- But Javid said the vaccines were working, including against the Delta variant
- Javid hopes that around two-thirds of all adults in this country will have had both Covid vaccines by 19 July
- As of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 22,868 lab-confirmed Covid cases in the UK, the Government said, the highest daily rise since January 30
What’s been said?
Javid said the Government planned to lift all restrictions on July 19.
He told the Commons: “I spent my first day as Health Secretary just yesterday looking at the data and testing it to the limit.
“While we decided not to bring forward Step 4, we see no reason to go beyond July 19, because, in truth, no date we choose comes with zero risk for Covid.
“We know we cannot simply eliminate it, we have to learn to live with it.”
Javid continued: “We also know that people and businesses need certainty, so we want every step to be irreversible.
“And make no mistake, the restrictions on our freedom, they must come to an end.
“We owe it to the British people, who have sacrificed so much, to restore their freedoms as quickly as we possibly can and not to wait a moment longer than we need to.
“With the numbers heading in the right direction, all while we protect more and more people each day, July 19 remains our target date.
“The Prime Minister has called it out ‘terminus date’. For me, July 19 is not only the end of the line, but the start of an exciting new journey for our country.
“At this crucial moment in the fightback against this pandemic, we must keep our resolve and keep on our road map to freedom so that together we can beat this pandemic and build back better.
“It is a task that I am deeply honoured to lead and one I know will succeed.”
Javid also praised his predecessor Hancock, telling MPs: “He worked hard throughout all these testing times.
“He has achieved a great amount in the work that he did and I know he will have more to offer in public life – and I wish him the very best.
Hancock resigned as Health Secretary after it emerged that he had been having an affair with an old university friend he had hired to work for him in government.
CCTV footage obtained by The Sun showed Hancock in an intimate embrace with Gina Coladangelo in his office, at a time when Covid restrictions permitted close-contact with anyone outside your own household.
Hancock resigned on Saturday night, though many criticised the PM for not sacking him prior to that, after the story was confirmed on Thursday night.
Javid returns to government after resigning as Chancellor in February last year, over a dispute about members of his staff, which is thought to have been caused by Dominic Cummings.