Covid vaccine news UK – Lockdown rules could be lifted EARLIER than June 21 if jabs accelerate and deaths and cases fall

LOCKDOWN rules could be totally lifted BEFORE June 21 if vaccines accelerate and deaths keep falling, it is claimed.

On Monday Boris Johnson unveiled a four-step roadmap to freedom, outlining exactly what aspects of daily life could resume and when – with June 21 outlined as the date all restrictions could be lifted.

The Prime Minister insisted any easing would be based on data not dates, however, and said a minimum five week gap between each step would be required to monitor the impact it has had on hospitalisations and deaths.

But according to a new report in The Telegraph today citing several senior government sources, positive data around the vaccine rollout could also see restrictions lifted even earlier than June 21.

Two factors seem to be influencing that decision – firstly Public Health Scotland’s recent report on the incredible effectiveness of vaccines which, if replicated in England, would tip the scales in favour of opening up early.

And secondly the inevitable impact reopening schools on March 8 will have on infections rising – said to be the main reason for Boris adopting a more cautious approach than many Tory backbenchers would like.

If, for example, the return of schools doesn’t lead to a dramatic surge in infections, there is a possibility the following steps may be moved forward and the UK return to normality even earlier than currently planned.

Follow our live blog below for the very latest on the UK ‘s path out of lockdown

  • BORIS’S BARNET GETS CHOP

    BORIS Johnson lost his patience with his flowing locks getting a haircut from fiancée Carrie Symonds.

    The PM’s unruly blonde barnet had been starting to look a little dishevelled as he visited a school in south east London yesterday.

    Read the full story here: 

  • BANK HOLIDAY CALL

    BORIS Johnson is facing calls to give the nation a bank holiday to celebrate the end of Covid restrictions, which are pencilled in for June 21.

    A social media campaign was launched after the Prime Minister’s road map announcement.

    Lib Dem leader Ed Davey backed the demands, and called on Boris to use the day to commemorate the efforts of the NHS and carers.

  • TAXING TIMES

    NORTHERN ‘Red Wall’ seats are being walloped by the highest council tax rates in the country, new research reveals.

    Boris Johnson risks seeing his levelling-up agenda flop unless he reforms the “loopy and lopsided” tax, campaigners have warned.

    Brits living in battleground seats – including newly Tory Burnley, Blackpool South and Redcar – pay the most as a proportion of their house value.

  • JOHNSON REFUSES TO GUARANTEE LOCKDOWN WILL BE ‘IRREVERSIBLE’

    The Prime Minister can’t guarantee the lockdown will be “irreversible”, but he said “intention is that it should be and that’s why we’re going in the way that we are”.

    He continued: “A lot of people will say why don’t you go faster, or see if you can bring some of this earlier if things are going well and there are signs that the disease is continuing to retreat.

    “The answer to that, you’ve got to listen to what Chris and Patrick were saying about the need for an interval between the relaxations, and the need to look at the data and see what’s happened.

    “This variant is capable of spreading really very fast when you unlock. We saw that at the end of last year, we’ve seen how fast it can take off.

    “That’s why we’ve got to look at the way the vaccinations are going, the way the data is looking, and then proceed cautiously, but I certainly hope irreversibly.”

  • ‘BRITAIN LOCKDOWN COULD BE LIFTED SOONER’

    Covid restrictions in England could be lifted sooner than June 21 if real-world data on the effect of vaccines is better than expected, The Telegraph reported citing government sources.

    If the positive results from an early Public Health Scotland study on vaccines is replicated in England, “that would change the calculations” on the timings, the newspaper said

  • IN OTHER NEWS…

    • The PM slapped down scientists who said he could ease the lockdown faster
    • Matt Hancock said it’s ‘on all of us’ to drive down cases and end curbs on daily life
    • Nicola Sturgeon announced Scottish pubs could reopen by the end of April
    • Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of lockdown in England by June 21
  • EU FACES LONGER LOCKDOWNS AMID BOTCHED JAB ROLLOUT

    The bloc’s PMs and presidents will admit during a video call on Thursday that the pandemic there is too “serious” to start lifting restrictions.

    And they will call for a ban on non-essential travel from outside the bloc to be kept in place, dealing a blow to Brits’ holiday hopes.

    EU chiefs have been alarmed by stubbornly high infections across most of the continent while their botched vaccines drive stutters.

    Their efforts are being blighted by low take-up of the AstraZeneca jab after French and German politicians spread misinformation about its efficacy.

  • WEMBLEY STADIUM TO HOLD 90,000 FANS FOR EUROS 

    It will be packed with 90,000 fans for the Euros final under plans to use the NHS app to show who is vaccinated.

    Ministers want to fill the home of football on July 11 to show off Brexit Britain’s storming jab-driven recovery.

  • HIGH-LEVEL COVID RULES TO REMAIN UNTIL AT LEAST APRIL 5: TAOISEACH

    A delay in the delivery of the AstraZeneca jab will not impact Ireland’s plans to ramp up its vaccination programme, the Taoiseach has said.

    Micheal Martin announced new plans for the programme with the aim to have administered first doses to 80% of adults by the end of June.

    It came as he announced Level 5 restrictions will remain in place until April 5 at last, although a phased reopening of schools will start from next week.

    Prior to Mr Martin’s address to the nation, AstraZeneca said it will deliver half of the expected delivery of vaccine doses to the EU in the second quarter of the year.

    The Taoiseach said this announcement has been factored in to the forecasts in his speech

  • FARMERS THANKED FOR FILLING SHELVES POST-BREXIT

    Boris Johnson has thanked farmers for keeping the UK’s supermarket shelves stocked and delivery boxes filled during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Post-Brexit, he added, freed from the “shackles” of the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, “I hope that this can be the moment when we start to realise the many opportunities we now have, not just for the benefit of our fantastic farmers, for all of you, but for our entire country.”

    In a video message the PM also told the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) annual conference there were opportunities to make farming more profitable, productive, sustainable and resilient.

  • TORY LOCKDOWN-SCEPTIC: SERIOUS QUESTIONS OVER ROAD MAP

    Mark Harper, leader of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) made up of Conservative MPs, has complained about “dodgy data” being used to inform the Prime Minister’s thinking on how fast coronavirus restrictions can be lifted.

    In a six-part thread posted on Twitter, the former chief whip said the modelling from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O) had been more cautious than the reality.

    Mr Harper said the modelling had predicted Covid-19 vaccines would reduce the risk of infection by 48 per cent and 60 per cent with the first and second doses respectively but Public Health England data suggested it was more like 57-70 per cent after one dose and 85 per cent after two.

    Similarly, he said Public Health Scotland evidence showed that one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab offered 85 per cent protection against being admitted to hospital or dying from coronavirus, while the Oxford/AstraZeneca afforded 94 per cent protection — well above SPI-M-O’s 70 per cent reduction assumption.

  • SECONDARY SCHOOLS TO DELIVER SUMMER PROVISION

    They will be asked to deliver summer schools as part of the Government’s multimillion-pound catch-up programme for children in England who have faced disruption due to Covid-19.

    Boris Johnson has announced an extra £400 million of funding – on top of the £300 million pledged in January – to help pupils make up lost learning time following months of school closures.

    As part of the recovery package, summer provision will be introduced for pupils who need it the most, such as incoming Year 7 pupils, whilst one-to-one and small group tutoring schemes will be expanded.

    The programme includes a one-off £302 million “Recovery Premium” for primary and secondary schools to support disadvantaged pupils – which could include running additional clubs and activities in the summer, or opting for evidence-based approaches to help children from September.

  • CORONAVIRUS-SCEPTIC FORMER CZECH PRESIDENT CATCHES COVID

    Former Czech president Vaclav Klaus, who has recently made a splash by publicly defying government restrictions to stem the Covid-19 spread, has caught the disease, his spokesman said Tuesday.

    “He wasn’t feeling well and he tested positive for Covid this afternoon,” Petr Macinka, spokesman for the Vaclav Klaus Institute think tank, told AFP.

    “He underwent a scan and left for treatment at home,” he added.

    The Czech Republic currently has the highest per capita infection rate in the world and is second after neighbouring Slovakia for deaths, according to an AFP tally.

    A former liberal economist and staunchly eurosceptic Czech prime minister, Klaus served as president in 2003-2013 after succeeding the late Czech anti-Communist hero and former dissident playwright Vaclav Havel.

    Credit: EPA

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  • MP SNUBBED FOR BEING CASUALLY DRESSED AT VIRTUAL COMMONS 

    An MP was snubbed from making a virtual contribution to Parliament after being judged to be dressed too casually.

    Conservative Jonathan Gullis had been set to address the Commons from home during a debate on support for businesses and individuals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    However, the Stoke-on-Trent North MP was skipped on the order paper by Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing after appearing without adhering to the proper dress code.

    Mr Gullis was able to make his virtual contribution to Parliament after sourcing a jacket to wear.

    During the debate, Mr Gullis appeared on screen with Dame Eleanor telling the Commons: “We now go to… we now go… no, I don’t think we do go to Stoke-on-Trent, the honourable gentleman (Mr Gullis) has to be dressed as if he were here in the chamber.

  • MATT HANCOCK SAYS IT WILL BE ‘QUIETER’ WEEK AS JAB ROLLOUT SLOWS

    The Health Sec told LBC’s Nick Ferrari it was “all about supply schedules” — and the nation will bounce back in March.

  • IN OTHER NEWS…

    • Scotland’s stay at home order to end on April 5 and pubs should be open by end of that month
    • Rishi Sunak is set to extend furlough until at least July as businesses remain shut
    • Boris sets England on snail-paced return to freedom with restrictions not fully lifted until at least June 21
    • Foreign holidays banned until May 17 at the earliest but ministers won’t decide until April if travel allowed
    • Summer of freedom could be brought to crashing end by FOURTH Covid wave, scientists warn
  • MISTAKE FOR PEOPLE TO REFUSE VACCINE, SAYS JOHNSON

    Boris Johnson has said it is a “mistake” for people to refuse to take a coronavirus vaccine amid warnings that failure to protect all communities could risk a wave of infections.

    The Prime Minister said some people “genuinely refuse” to receive a jab but he believes that everyone should have a vaccine if they are able to.

    His comments came as Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Government’s modelling advisory panel SPI-M, said it is important to improve the uptake of the vaccine in deprived and inner-city areas.

    Meanwhile, No 10 insisted the Government remains confident in the supply of vaccines following a dip in the number of doses administered in recent days.

  • BORIS JOHNSON REFUSES TO GUARANTEE LOCKDOWN WILL BE ‘IRREVERSIBLE’

    The Prime Minister can’t guarantee that the lockdown will be “irreversible”, However he said “intention is that it should be and that’s why we’re going in the way that we are”.

    He continued: “A lot of people will say why don’t you go faster, or see if you can bring some of this earlier if things are going well and there are signs that the disease is continuing to retreat.

    “The answer to that, you’ve got to listen to what Chris and Patrick were saying about the need for an interval between the relaxations, and the need to look at the data and see what’s happened.

    “This variant is capable of spreading really very fast when you unlock. We saw that at the end of last year, we’ve seen how fast it can take off.

    “That’s why we’ve got to look at the way the vaccinations are going, the way the data is looking, and then proceed cautiously, but I certainly hope irreversibly.”

  • MUSIC VENUES ‘SHOULD BE ABLE TO PUT ON FULL PROGRAMME OF CONCERTS THIS SUMMER’

    The public should be able to enjoy a full programme of concerts this summer, says the Music Venue Trust’s boss.

    Mark Davyd, CEO of the organisation which represents grassroots venues, said the sector should be in a position to bounce back despite the “enormous amount of debt” accrued over the course of the pandemic.

    He said while it may be “two or three years” until music venues have “fully recovered” from the effects of the pandemic, the public should expect a full calendar of concerts this summer.

    “We are on course to bring live music back, to revive live, by the summer,” Mr Davyd said.

    While Glastonbury has been cancelled for 2021, many in the live music sector hope other events will go ahead.

  • IN-PERSON UNI GRADUATION CEREMONIES TO RESUME

    Students could be offered face-to-face lessons after Easter and they may graduate with classmates in small ceremonies, a vice-chancellor has said.

    Prof Adam Tickell, the University of Sussex’s VC, said thousands of students had already returned to the institution’s own accommodation despite most teaching remaining online since December.

    A number of UK unis, including the London School of Economics (LSE) and St Andrews, have decided to move the majority of their lessons online for the rest of the academic year amid the pandemic.

    But Prof Tickell said: “I do hope that we’re able to have students back both in terms of practical classes from March 8, which will be allowed in England, but also from after Easter.”

    At a webinar, when asked whether in-person graduations could be on the cards amid the Government’s plans to remove all restrictions on June 21, he replied: “We may have small school-based or subject-based graduations.”

  • LONDON STRUGGLING TO JAB OVER-70S

    NHS North East Hampshire is storming ahead with protecting residents from Covid – vaccinating a whopping 99.8 per cent of its over-70s.

    But the capital is seriously lagging by contrast, according to the latest provisional inoculation figures.

    The NHS Central London (Westminster) clinical commissioning group had given a first dose to an estimated 60.9 per cent of over-70s by February 14 – and all of the 10 lowest performing groups were in the capital.

    The initial stats showed a marked difference in the estimated proportion of people aged 70 and over in England who had received a a first jab by February 14.

  • EUROPE FACES LONGER LOCKDOWNS IN BOTCHED JAB ROLLOUT

    Sickly Europe will have to stay in lockdown while Britain breaks free – with EU leaders publicly turning on Brussels over its bungled vaccine rollout.

    The bloc’s PMs and presidents will admit during a video call on Thursday that the pandemic there is too “serious” to start lifting restrictions.

    And they will call for a ban on non-essential travel from outside the bloc to be extended, dealing a blow to Brits’ holiday hopes.

    EU chiefs have been alarmed by stubbornly high infections across most of the continent while their botched vaccines drive stutters.

    Their efforts are being blighted by low take-up of the AstraZeneca jab after French and German politicians spread misinformation about its efficacy.

  • SCOTLAND’S STAY-AT-HOME RULE LIFTS APRIL 5

    The Scottish Government hopes to remove the country’s stay at home restriction by April 5, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

    She told MSPs in the Scottish Parliament today that lockdown would ease in phases, separated by at least three weeks, culminating in the removal of the stay at home order and education returning fully on April 5.

    After lockdown is lifted, Scotland will move back to the levels system.

    The remaining primary school years, as well as more senior phase pupils in secondary schools, will be part of the second phase – which will come no earlier than March 15 – along with an increase in outdoor mixing to four people from two households.

    Communal worship, a further extension to outdoor mixing and more freedoms in retail are also hoped to be put in place from April 5.

  • BRITISH AIRWAYS DELIVERS RUSSIA’S SPUTNIK V VACCINE TO MEXICO

    Mexico has received its first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V Covid vaccines, after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke with Russia leader Vladimir Putin.

    Some 200,000 doses arrived at Mexico City’s international airport late Monday night aboard a British Airways flight from Moscow.

    Officials will begin vaccinating seniors in the capital’s most marginalised boroughs on Wednesday.

    Mexico received its first shipment of vaccines from Pfizer in mid-December, but turned to Sputnik V in January when other expected vaccine shipments were delayed.

    In early February, Mexican regulators gave Sputnik V emergency approval and the government signed a contract to bring 400,000 doses to Mexico in February. It’s unclear when the next shipment of Sputnik will arrive.

    British Airways delivers a large batch of Sputnik V vaccines to Mexico City
    British Airways delivers a large batch of Sputnik V vaccines to Mexico CityCredit: Getty Images – Getty
  • REGIONAL LEVELS RETURN TO SCOTLAND

    Scotland will return to a regional levels system from the last week in April if its coronavirus suppression continues, says Nicola Sturgeon.

    She said: “From the last week of April we would expect to see phased but significant reopening of the economy, including non-essential retail, hospitality and services like gyms and hairdressers.

    “And, of course, the more of us who are vaccinated and the more we all stick by the rules now, the faster that safe pace is likely to be – if we all stay in this together, our progress will be greater.”

    The First Minister told MSPs the five-level system, separated by council areas, will return and she hopes those in Level 4 will be able to drop down to Level 3, which would see sectors such as non-essential retail reopen.

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