TORY PM Boris Johnson set out his five point plan for ‘Living with Covid’ yesterday saying that he expects the lifting of restrictions will go ahead on July 19 despite infection rates rising rapidly across the country and scientists calling for him to wait until the vaccination programme is complete.
Johnson said: ‘As we come to the fourth step we have to balance the risks – the risks of the disease which the vaccines have reduced – but very far from eliminated – and the risks of continuing with legally enforced restrictions which inevitably take their toll on people’s lives and livelihoods and on people’s health and mental health.
‘We must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks when we will be helped by the arrival of the summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves when will we be able to return to normal?’
Johnson said that while the government will end the legal obligation on wearing a face covering, guidance will suggest ‘where you might choose to do so’.
He then set out his five point plan:
- The interval between vaccine doses for under-40s will be reduced from twelve weeks to eight, meaning everyone over 18 should be double-jabbed by mid-September.
This is in addition to an autumn programme for booster jabs for the most vulnerable;
- The government will move away from legal restrictions to allow people to make ‘informed decisions’ about how to manage the virus;
- From step four, all legal limits on numbers meeting indoors and outdoors will be lifted;
- All businesses, including nightclubs, will be allowed to reopen;
- The limits on named visitors to care homes will be lifted, as will the limits on numbers attending concerts, theatres and sports events;
- The 1m-plus social distancing rule will end.
Responding to the government’s line that we should ‘live with Covid,’ Unite union leader Steve Turner said: ‘It is absolutely staggering that the government has pronounced that we must now “live with Covid”, yet they have put zero support in place to support struggling businesses and workers through this next phase.
‘Draining down furlough support at this volatile time just makes no economic sense. Instead, the government should be rebooting the scheme, looking at how it can support the economy to “live with Covid”, which we’re told will be with us for years.
‘The government is putting its Tory backbenches before jobs, binning simple public health measures, yet failing to provide support for fragile sectors like aerospace, travel and hospitality. It’s utterly irresponsible.
‘Working people have lost their lives or had their health destroyed by this crippling virus. Our communities’ health is not some bone to be chucked to the Tory backbenches.
‘The government wants to turn this into a debate on freedom when the truth is that this is nothing other than a shameless effort to move on from their mishandling of the crisis.’