politics

Boris Johnson 'to warn Freedom Day must be delayed to avoid fourth lockdown'


Lockdown-weary Brits will be told that a four-week delay in easing Covid restrictions will avoid yet another crippling lockdown, it has been reported.

Boris Johnson will give an update on the next stage of the roadmap on Monday amid a surge in cases.

Reports say it is likely the Prime Minister will announce a delay to so-called ‘Freedom Day’ over fears of another wave of Covid and concerns surrounding the Delta variant.

Mr Johnson said on Saturday that the spiralling numbers were a “serious, serious concern”.

It is believed that the delay could be for four weeks, which would mean the next stage of the roadmap would not be before July 19.



People out and about in Blackburn town centre
Brits have enjoyed greater freedom since more restrictions were eased in mid-May

The Daily Telegraph reports that when Mr Johnson addresses the nation at a Downing Street press conference he is expected to say that sticking to the rules now is worth it to avoid a future lockdown.

A senior government source was reported to have said: “The message has always been cautious but irreversible. That has been our mantra throughout and that continues.

“It would be far worse to have uncertainty and go backwards. It is better to be cautious and have certainty. It is one last heave. It is a straight race between the vaccine and the virus.”

The Government is to reportedly set to extend the law enshrining the rules of the reopening roadmap, which expire this month.

Meanwhile, The Times reports that there is concern that the new deadline of mid-July could be pushed back even further if cases and hospital admissions rise.

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The publication claimed that Whitehall planners had initially considered ordering delays of two or five weeks.

Dominic Raab told Times Radio he could not give an “absolute guarantee” that lockdown restrictions would be eased by that new deadline.

Asked if there was confidence restrictions could be lifted by August, he answered: “I don’t think there are any absolute guarantees.”

It comes after the latest Covid figures show 7,738 cases in the last 24 hours – up 52.5% in a week. A further 187 patients were admitted to hospital – an increase of 15.2% on the rolling seven-day average.

A string of government advisors have predicted a delay of up to four weeks to step four – which was meant to lift the six-person limit on indoor gatherings – to July 19.

Warning the Government not to go ahead with Step Four yet, professor Andrew Hayward, Director of College London’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “We have got to be really cautious because there is still a substantial chance we could have a wave of hospitalisations which could put substantial pressure on the NHS.”

He added: “If you are driving down a road and coming to a bend, and you’re not quite sure what’s round that bend, you don’t put your foot on the accelerator.”





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