The Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has made a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon regarding the roadmap out of lockdown.
He dealt with each of the 4 tests which the government look at in order to make the decision to move to the next stage of the roadmap:
- Vaccine deployment programme continues successfully– The government are on track to beat their vaccination programme targets
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated – There is increasing evidence that the vaccine rollout has severely weakened the link between covid cases and hospitalisations. Research shows the vaccination programme has prevented between 7.5m and 8.5m infections and around 30,000 people losing their lives
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS – Cases are rising and hospitalisations are also rising, and both are expected to increase further, but they are far lower than they have been in previous waves. The government don’t believe on current evidence that the increase in cases will put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- The government assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern – Although the Delta variant is more transmissible, 2 doses of the vaccine are just as effective as with the alpha vaccine. The government will maintain tough measures at the borders and high standards of genomic sequencing to identify variants.
The Heath Secretary confirmed that on the basis of the above, the government believe this is the right time to move to the next stage of the roadmap and therefore we will move to Step 4 on July 19th.
Whilst legal restrictions are lifted at this next stage, Sajid Javid said is expected that people will:
- Return to work gradually and safely
- Continue to meet people outside where possible
- Wear face coverings in public places such as public transport where they are crowded, unless exempt.
…as part of a phase of continued caution.
He also said that guidance would be issued for businesses in due course about the use of covid-certification in higher risk settings.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to deliver a press conference at 5pm to confirm this.