Sajid Javid confirms 19 July as date for England’s lockdown restrictions to end
Boris Johnson and his new Health Secretary Sajid Javid have confirmed their intention for 19 July to mark the end of England’s lockdown restrictions - after a month-long delay.
Javid resisted pressure from Tory MPs to bring forward the date of Step 4 of the roadmap, but he said there was “no reason” why the 19 July deadline would not be met.
The Prime Minister signalled that the “terminus” date would mean going “back to life as it was before Covid as far as possible”.
In his first Commons statement since replacing Matt Hancock, Javid told MPs: “There remains a big task ahead of us to restore our freedoms – freedoms that, save for the greatest of circumstances, no government should ever wish to curtail.
“So my task is to help return the economic and cultural life that makes this country so great while of course protecting life and our NHS.”
Javid said he spent his first day in the new job on 27 June looking at the Covid data and “testing it to the limit”.
When “freedom day” was delayed from 21 June, a review was announced which could have seen restrictions eased on July 5 – something that ministers have now rejected.
Javid said: “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 hopes that around two-thirds of all adults in England will have had both doses by 19 July.
As of 9am on 28 June, there had been a further 22,868 lab-confirmed Covid cases in the UK, the Government said, the highest daily rise since January 30.
Government data up to 27 June shows that 77,038,257 Covid jabs have been given so-far in the UK, 44,454,511 of which were first doses – a rise of 139,712 on the previous day.
Additional reporting by PA.