Sir Patrick Vallance: COVID-19 will be with us forever
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On Monday, the Prime Minister announced a delay of the end of all lockdown restrictions, from June 21 to July 19 at the earliest. Boris Johnson warned that thousands more people might die if he did nothing because of the rapid spread of the more infectious Delta variant.
Most restrictions were meant to be lifted on June 21, dubbed ‘Freedom Day’, when some of the last remaining closed venues and events could reopen.
There are still a number of restrictions on how many people can meet, dense capacity venues and events, and on social distancing rules.
The news comes despite the UK having one of the fastest and most successful vaccine rollouts in the world.
The Prime Minister also announced a plan to bring forward the date by whichever adult in England is offered a vaccine to July 19.
Speaking at a Downing Street Press Conference, the Prime Minister said: “As things stand – and on the basis of the evidence I can see right now – I am confident we will not need any more than 4 weeks and we won’t need to go beyond July 19.
“It is unmistakably clear the vaccines are working and the sheer scale of the vaccine roll-out has made our position incomparably better than in previous waves.
“But now is the time to ease off the accelerator because by being cautious now we have the chance – in the next four weeks – to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.
“And once the adults of this country have been overwhelmingly vaccinated, which is what we can achieve in a short space of time, we will be in a far stronger position to keep hospitalisations down, to live with this disease, and to complete our cautious but irreversible roadmap to freedom.”
What are the rules on parties? Can I host a party?
Hosting a party is still subject to two rules – how many people, and where you have the party.
Indoor parties are still forbidden. The rules stipulate in England that only six people can gather indoors at a time or two households of any size.
You can, however, gather in groups of up to 30 outdoors in England – and it’s up to you whether you want to be socially distanced or not.
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The rules are the same in Wales, except the two-metre social distancing rule is still in place.
In Northern Ireland, the limit on groups outdoors is 15 people from three households only.
In Scotland, the limit currently depends on your region – if you are in level one restrictions, you can meet 12 other people outdoors; in level two, you can meet eight, and if you are lucky enough to be in level zero, you can meet 15.
Indoor parties are unfortunately off the cards for everyone, with limits on meeting indoors in all countries.
What will happen on July 19?
July 19 is the new earmarked date for when the vast majority of restrictions will end.
If all goes to plan, nightclubs and theatres will be able to reopen.
Groups of any size will be allowed to meet up, indoor and outdoor.
Major events like music festivals will also be allowed to take place.
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