WE CANNOT simply eliminate Covid, we must be able to learn to live with it,’ Tory PM Boris Johnson said in announcing a delay to the easing of lockdown restrictions due for June 21 at a press conference at 6pm yesterday.
Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty, and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance spoke alongside Johnson at the briefing.
Johnson said: ‘When we announced the roadmap for opening we said we were embarking on a road that is cautious but irreversible. Thanks to the vaccine rollout, that has enabled us to have one of the most open societies. And as we know as we open up we always said that inevitably there will be more infections and more hospitalisation.’
He went on to say that he wants to ‘give the NHS extra time for vaccinations and so we will hold off that step four opening up until the 31st July.
‘I am confident that we will not need more than four extra weeks,’ he said. ‘Now is the time to ease off the accelerator. By being cautious over the next four weeks we will save thousands of lives by vaccinating more people.’
The extension will be put to a vote in the House of Commons, raising the prospect of a Tory rebellion. However, Labour say that they will vote for an extension.
It comes as new analysis shows England’s rate of new coronavirus cases has climbed to its highest level for more than three months. Three coronavirus deaths were recorded in the last 24-hours.
A total of 37,729 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in England in the seven days to 9th June, according to Public Health England.
England was due to move to stage four of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, when venues and events would be allowed to operate without capacity limits and the cap on guests at weddings would be lifted.
Earlier, the Speaker condemned the Prime Minister for not informing the House of Commons first, and instead doing the press conference and then coming to tell Parliament at 8.30pm that evening.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons Speaker, said it is ‘totally unacceptable’ that Downing Street has sidelined Parliament, again, when announcing changes to the lockdown regulations.
Hoyle said: ‘I find it totally unacceptable that, once again, we see Downing Street running roughshod over Members of Parliament.
‘We’re not accepting it, and I’m at the stage where I’m beginning to look for other avenues, if they’re not going to treat this House
Hoyle also said he thought it was time for him to have a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss this issue so that he could ‘actually put on the record, here and now, that this House matters’.