Related video: Boris Johnson rejects notion that billion doses of vaccines is ‘moral failure’
Boris Johnson is expected to tell the public “one last heave” is needed to get the country over the line as he announces a delay to the easing of lockdown restrictions.
The prime minister is facing a furious backlash from Tory MPs as he prepares to announce the ending of remaining social-distancing rules – which had been slated for 21 June – will be postponed by four weeks to 19 July.
Health minister Edward Argar has claimed a month-long delay would allow another 10 million second coronavirus vaccine doses to go into arms.
The move follows warnings from scientists that the rapid spread of the Delta variant first identified in India risks a “substantial” third wave if it is allowed to spread unchecked.
Mr Johnson is expected to appeal to the public to show patience, with one last push to ensure that when controls do finally end it will be “irreversible”.
Prime minister to announce lockdown easing decision at 6pm
Boris Johnson will announce the decision on the 21 June easing of restrictions at a press conference at 6pm today, Downing Street has confirmed.
The prime minister will be joined by England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.
Chiara Giordano14 June 2021 09:28
What time is Boris Johnson’s Covid announcement today?
Boris Johnson is expected to announce a four-week delay to easing remaining lockdown restrictions at a press conference today.
My colleague Joanna Taylor has put together this guide on when and where to watch the briefing:
Chiara Giordano14 June 2021 09:18
Health minister does not rule out shortening gap between vaccine doses
Health minister Edward Argar has said he does not rule out shortening the gap between coronavirus vaccine doses for younger adults in England.
“We have shortened the gap for the over-50s from 12 to eight weeks,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“But we will be guided by the advice of JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) and the scientists on this.
“At the moment, we believe the right thing to do is to shorten the gap for the over-50s, but we are always open to scientific advice.
“If that is the scientific advice, of course we will look at it very carefully – but at the moment the advice we are getting is the approach that we are following, which is the over-50s, and we have got the supplies to do that.”
Chiara Giordano14 June 2021 09:02
Third wave in younger age groups ‘already happening’, says expert
Professor Devi Sridhar, from the University of Edinburgh, said a third wave of cases largely in younger age groups was already happening “but the worry is that this will slowly move, like it has in previous waves, into older groups”, some of whom are not yet fully protected.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the goal was to “make this a manageable health issue” and use vaccines and testing to “keep the burden off health services”.
She added: “We’re really trying to break that chain between cases and hospitalisations and severe disease and maintain NHS capacity when burnout is already an issue within the NHS.”
Chiara Giordano14 June 2021 08:52
Restrictions on weddings could be eased, health minister suggests
Health minister Edward Argar has suggested England’s restrictions on weddings are set to be eased, as he said couples waiting to wed are “very much” in the mind of Boris Johnson at the moment.
“There will be a lot of couples who planned, hoped, to do it, put a line through it, done it again and rescheduled again,” he told Sky News.
“Not only does that cost money, but emotionally that is incredibly difficult for couples who want to have their special day and want to get married.
“Again, I’m not going to pre-empt what the prime minister will say later, but I know that weddings and people in that particular situation will be very much in his mind at the moment, it’s one of the things he has been looking at.”
Chiara Giordano14 June 2021 08:43
Lockdown easing would allow ‘another 10 million second vaccine doses to go into arms’
Health minister Edward Argar has said if the 21 June lockdown easing were to be delayed for one month, another 10 million second coronavirus vaccine doses would go into arms in this time.
“Were there to be a delay, were that to be what the prime minister announces, we will see what he says and he will make a judgement if he were to delay it on how long by,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“If we are going at a run rate of about 250,000 to 300,000 second jabs being done each day, a month gives you roughly that 10 million, which closes the gap… 10 million you have got to do to get from 29 million to 40 million, so that all 40 million have had their second jabs.”
Chiara Giordano14 June 2021 08:33
Delay to lifting lockdown should not happen ‘without really good reason’, says Tory MP
Conservative MP Peter Bone said a delay to the lifting of restrictions should not happen “without really good reason” and that currently he “can’t see the evidence why we should be postponing our freedom”.
Asked if he would vote against a delay if put to a vote in parliament, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What I would do is listen to what the prime minister says, listen to the arguments, and if I’m not convinced that these restrictions are necessary then I would of course vote against it and I hope every member of the House of Commons will listen to the argument and make their minds up.
“There has to be a vote in the House of Commons. This can’t be decided by a few ministers sitting behind closed doors. It has to be an open and transparent decision.”
He said there should only be restrictions “if there is a very clear danger to society”.
Chiara Giordano14 June 2021 08:30
Council leader warns of ‘devastating effect’ to London’s West End if lockdown lifting delayed
The leader of Westminster City Council has warned of the “devastating” effects on the West End if the end of lockdown is delayed.
Rachael Robathan said: “We are all braced for a delay today in the lifting of social distancing rules – while that will be extremely disappointing and devastating for some sectors, the government’s priority has got to be to protect people’s health.
“But central London cannot afford any slippage in the fight to revive our economy. Footfall numbers are still down, office workers are staying away in significant numbers and central areas of the city are hurting.
“That makes the case for action now even more compelling. In the West End we continue to support al fresco dining, we are preparing to launch a new campaign to attract visitors to Westminster and we will soon be putting the finishing touches to the new Marble Arch Mound tourist attraction.”
Chiara Giordano14 June 2021 08:25
Boris Johnson to call for ‘one last heave’ as restriction easing set to be delayed
Boris Johnson is expected to announce a delay to lifting all remaining lockdown restrictions at a Downing Street press conference later today, when he will reportedly tell the public “one last heave” is needed to get the country over the line.
Pressure has been growing on ministers to postpone the final move out of lockdown as infections rise sharply, with one expert warning on Sunday of a “substantial third wave”.
Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick and reporter Chantal da Silva have more details:
Chiara Giordano14 June 2021 08:20
India asks for origin of social media posts on adoption of orphans
India’s top child rights body has asked social media platforms to share the origin of posts that advertise adoption of children orphaned due to Covid-19 with law enforcement agencies.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has written to platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, that any such adoption is “illegal”, according to news agency PTI.
The body has said 3,621 children have been orphaned during the pandemic, 26,176 lost either parent and 274 have been abandoned.
Akshita Jain14 June 2021 07:23
Source: The Independent