Boris Johnson to give press conference TONIGHT to confirm July 19 plans

BORIS Johnson will reveal his decision whether to go ahead with Freedom Day on July 19 at a Downing Street briefing tonight.

The PM is expected to push ahead with plans to axe the majority of Covid restrictions next Monday when he addresses the nation at around 5pm.

The fourth and final step of his roadmap ditches legal measures on masks, social distancing, limits on gatherings and the work from home guidance.

Public alarm has been growing in the face of rising case numbers fuelled by the super-infectious Delta variant.

Labour has called the "big bang" reopening "reckless" and urged the PM to instead take baby steps back to normality.

But the PM is being pulled the other way by lockdown-hating Tory MPs who today demanded he "hold firm" in the face of gloomsters.

Ministers have confirmed that Brits will be strongly encouraged to follow fresh guidance brought in to replace the legal measures.

Teeing up the PM's unlocking announcement, Health Minister Ed Argar told Sky News: "If not now, when? We're in a position where the vaccination programme is our defensive wall against the virus and it's proving hugely effective."

More than 86 per cent of people have now received a first dose, and 65 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Positive Public Health England data also found both Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs to be more than 90 per cent effective against the Delta strain after two doses.

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Mr Johnson will tonight likely confirm that four crucial criteria for the unlocking have been passed – the vaccine rollout continues at pace; jabs are cutting serious illness; infections don't risk crippling the NHS; there are no emerging worrying variants.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid will update MPs on the plans in the Commons at the same time.

Ahead of the announcement Mr Johnson stressed that the public must remain incredibly vigilant.

He said: "We are tantalisingly close to the final milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown, but the plan to restore our freedoms must come with a warning.  

“While the phenomenal vaccine rollout has offered every adult some protection against the virus, and the crucial link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths is weakened, the global pandemic is not over yet.

“Cases will rise as we unlock, so as we confirm our plans today, our message will be clear. Caution is absolutely vital, and we must all take responsibility so we don’t undo our progress, ensuring we continue to protect our NHS."

 

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