Sajid Javid confirms most restrictions will end in England on July 19

Sajid Javid has defended the UK Government ending most restrictions on July 19 by asking “if not now, when?”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the easing to MPs on Monday afternoon.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the easing to MPs on Monday afternoon.

The Health Secretary told MPs it was the “right time to get our nation closer to normal life”, and claimed the four tests for easing restrictions had been met.

Making a statement in the Commons, Mr Javid confirmed masks would no longer be legally required, social distancing measures would be scrapped, and the work from home order would be lifted.

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He said: “Thanks to the shared sacrifices of the British people and the protective wall of our vaccination programme, we have made huge advances.

“We’ve all been yearning to get there and we all want this to be a one-way journey, so we’ve acted in a measured way taking one step at a time and looking at the very latest data and at our four tests before deciding whether to proceed.

“We’ve given more doses per capita than any other large nation and, as a result, around nine in ten adults in the UK now have Covid-19 antibodies.

“To those who say ‘why take this step now’ I say ‘if not now, when?’

“There will never be a perfect time to take this step because we simply cannot eradicate this virus.”

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Mr Javid said the Government’s approach was “about balancing the harms that are caused by Covid with the undeniable harms that restrictions bring”.

The plans will also see the widespread use of Covid status certification, the so-called vaccine passports allowing people to show whether they are double-jabbed, have a negative test result or have natural immunity after recovering from Covid-19.

Nightclubs, which have been closed since the first lockdown in March last year, will also be allowed to open their doors but will be encouraged to use certification to minimise the risks.

Despite removing the legal requirement, Downing Street insisted the Government will “expect and recommend” the continued use of face masks in crowded areas and on public transport.

Boris Johnson will give a press conference on the easing of restrictions later Monday evening.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, told the Commons the Government’s plan to continue with the road map next week could lead to more mutant variants of Covid-19.

He said: “The Secretary of State has taken a high risk, indeed fatalistic, approach. Trying to guess what might happen in the winter, deciding that infections are going up anyway.

“Instead of caution he is putting his foot down the on the accelerator while throwing the seat belt off.

“He admits that could mean 2,000 infections a day.

“That means potentially thousands suffering debilitating long Covid. It means as more cases arise potentially more escape and the threat of new more transmissible variant emerging.”

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to confirm the decision to move the whole of mainland Scotland to level zero on July 19 tomorrow – the same day as the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ in England.

Such a move would see restrictions around hospitality capacity, weddings, and the number of people allowed into sporting and entertainment venues relax, ahead of a further reduction in the severity of restrictions planned for August 9.

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