Boris Johnson says July 19 still 'looking good' for lockdown easing

Lockdown easing was delayed in England by two weeks. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Lockdown easing was delayed in England by two weeks. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has said that July 19 is still “looking good” for the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, in spite of rising virus cases.

The Prime Minister said the date looked set to be the “terminus point” for England’s lockdown even though hospital admissions were increasing, with more patients in intensive care.

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He did not rule out the possibility of further restrictions in the case of a “rough winter” in which the NHS came under strain from a combination of the flu and Covid-19.

The Prime Minister told reporters that cases of the Delta coronavirus variant first identified in India were going up by about 30% a week “hospitalisations up by roughly the same amount and so, sadly, are ICU admissions”.

“We’ve got to be cautious, but we’ll be we’ll be following the data the whole time,” he told reporters during a laboratory visit in Hertfordshire.

He remained positive that July 19 would see the end of restrictions – a date set after lockdown easing was delayed from June 21.

“You can never exclude that there will be some new disease, some new horror that we simply haven’t budgeted for, or accounted for,” the PM told reporters.

“But looking at where we are, looking at the efficacy of the vaccines against all variants that we can currently see – so Alpha, Delta, the lot of them, Kappa – I think it’s looking good for July 19 to be that terminus point.

“I think what the scientists are saying is that things like flu will come back this winter, we may have a rough winter for all sorts of reasons, and obviously there are big pressures on the NHS.

“All the more reason to reduce the number of Covid cases now, give the NHS the breathing space it needs to get on with dealing with all those other pressures, and we are certainly going to be putting in the investment to make sure that they can.”

The Prime Minister suggested the economy was ready to bounce back as restrictions ease.

“We are seeing employment up, jobs up, vacancies up – we’ve got a lot of demand now and we want to get things moving as fast as we possibly can, but in a sustainable way.”

Additional reporting by PA.