Boris ‘confident’ his covid plan with save Britain from another lockdown
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The Prime Minister will today scrap many coronavirus curbs and bring in mass booster shots.
He said last night: “Thanks to our phenomenal vaccine programme, new treatments and testing we are able to live with the virus without significant restrictions on our freedoms.
‘We’ve got to do everything that’s right to protect the country’ but…we are very confident in the steps we’ve taken.”
Compulsory use of jab passports to enter nightclubs and other crowded venues has been put on ice while travel traffic light regulations are to be axed this week, with PCR tests no longer required for fully vaccinated travellers. Mandatory face masks in some situations and Government advice to employees to work from home are likely to be retained as options in Mr Johnson’s plan.
Lockdowns are expected to become a “last resort”.
The Prime Minister warned yesterday “The pandemic is far from over” but added: “I will set out a clear plan for the autumn and winter, when the virus has a natural advantage, to protect the gains we have made.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid will detail his Covid plans in a statement to MPs today.
Mr Johnson will address the nation from a press conference in Downing Street later, alongside his chief medical advisers.
Vaccines are expected to remain the Government’s main weapon against the virus, supported by testing, by public health advice and by a surveillance system for tracking potential future variants of Covid- 19. The strategy is based on advice fromWhitehall, scientific and medical experts on controlling the virus.
It came as the Government announced that three million children aged 12 to 15 will be offered the Pfizer shot in schools next week, following medical advice.
Parents are to be consulted before their children are jabbed, ministers said.
Covid-related deaths and admissions to hospital have remained relatively stable in England for a month.
Public Health England analysis suggests the two-dose vaccination rolled out this year prevented 24,702,000 infections and 112,300 deaths up to August 27.
Mr Johnson and Mr Javid will today explain how booster jabs will be offered to the most members of the public on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
The programme is separate to the rollout of a third primary dose for immunocompromised people The Prime Minister confirmed boosters will be available shortly: “That’s going ahead, that’s already been approved and I think that’s a good thing.”
It was reported last night that over-50s would be offered a Pfizer/BioNTech jab at least six months after they receive their second dose of the vaccine.
Ministers believe the move will help ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed by new cases of the disease as it moves into the winter.
However it has been criticised by some scientists, who argue that the priority should be to get the jab to countries which have received only scant quantities of the vaccine.
Appealing to the public on a visit to the Midlands yesterday, Mr Johnson said: “I just use the advantage of this session – everybody that still hasn’t yet been vaccinated, the 10 percent or so that still haven’t had a vaccination…please go and get one.” He continued: “Very sadly, people are still succumbing to Covid, dying from Covid – are the unvaccinated.
“So please, go and get your jab.”
Mr Johnson, at British Gas training academy in Leicester, also spoke of his confidence that the plans will protect the UK from a surge in serious Covid cases. He said: “We’ve got to do everything that’s right to protect the country.
“But the way things are going at the moment, we are very confident in the steps we’ve taken.
“What we want to do is avoid vaccine passports, if we possibly can.
“That’s the course we’re on but I think you’ve got to be prudent and you’ve got to keep things in reserve in case things change.”
No10 aides said that another lockdown over winter would only be considered as a “last resort”.
Asked if ministers would consider one should Covid cases soar, the PM’s spokesman added: “We are in a very different place than where we were previously when other lockdowns were introduced, thanks to the success of our vaccine programme and other things like therapeutics treatments for coronavirus.
“We would only ever consider those sort of measures as a last resort.
“We will set out in more detail [on Tuesday] what our approach will be should we see a significant increase in cases.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said that some regulations may still be needed as the NHS prepares to battle both Covid and seasonal flu over the winter.
Asked about maintaining advice to employees to work from home, she told BBC Breakfast of the need to keep some rules available, adding: “Whether that’s with…making sure statutory sick pay can be paid from day one rather than day four, as tends to happen in more regular times.
“These are the sensible measures I think that we’re going to keep.”
On the issue of masks, she added: “The Prime Minister will be setting out the Covid winter plan.
“I think my approach, and I see that with a lot of employers’ organisations, is about having a situation-specific approach.”
Ms Coffey said that the introduction of vaccine passports had not been “ruled out forever”.
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