Boris Johnson says evidence on the Indian variant is not yet ‘conclusive’.
As ministers agreed local lockdowns are back on the cards, Boris Johnson desperately tried to play down rising concerns that the June 21 ‘freedom day’ might be scrapped.
The strategy remains unchanged, according to the PM, as the government sifts through new information about the rapidly spreading pressure. However, he seemed to soften his tone by stating that there isn’t yet “conclusive” proof that the roadmap would need to be changed.
He also tried to reinforce the message that vaccine apprehension could prevent the next round of easings from taking place, pointing out that vaccine uptake in the UK was extremely high by international standards. He encouraged people to ‘get your jab’ when the health service welcomed them on a visit to a vaccine center in London.
‘We are looking at the epidemiology the whole time as it comes in and, at the moment, partly because we have built up such a wall of defences with the vaccination programme, I don’t see anything conclusive at the moment to say that we need to deviate from the road map,’ he said.
‘But we’ve got to be cautious and we are keeping everything under very close observation.
‘We’ll know a lot more in a few days’ time.’
The remarks came during a cabinet meeting and try to come up with a policy, which included emergency measures that might see local restrictions used to tackle hotspots as the rest of the world relaxes.
People in the worst-affected areas may be ordered to stay at home, restaurants and shops may be forced to close, and stricken companies may be given more grants to keep them afloat, similar to the tiers scheme implemented last summer.
There are also raising doubts on whether the lockdown will be lifted on June 21 across England. Mr Johnson had been promising a large lifting of legal restrictions and social distance only a week ago, but it now seems that a study of the laws will not be conducted this month.
Ministers are scrambling to find ways to contain outbreaks of the Indian variant, which has now been linked to over 2,300 cases in England. In just ten days, the numbers have quadrupled, accounting for at least one out of every five infections.
Labour and local activists have demanded that vaccines for younger people in areas where the strain is spreading be hurried through, but this has been denied so far.
Some of the loosening that took effect this week, such as the ‘Rule of Six’ socializing indoors and in bars and restaurants, will have to be reversed, according to a government source.
‘It’s obvious that some social distance will have to be maintained; not everything we’ve planned for June 21 is likely to happen,’.
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As reported by The Daily Mail