Boris Johnson announcement: PM to annonce fate of Freedom Day as MPs pile on pressure

Freedom Day: GB News hosts outline new rules

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It comes as Tory MPs have urged the Prime Minister not to lose his nerve and to confirm that freedom day will happen on July 19. Mr Johnson is set to announce tomorrow whether step 4 of unlocking is definitely going to happen having outlined that it will bring to an end almost all the covid rules in England. While the Prime Minister will still urge caution and emphasise the need for personal responsibility a backlash led by Labour and hardline pro-lockdown scientists has failed to dissuade him from his planned course of action.

A Number 10 spokeswoman told The Sunday Express: “We’ve achieved what we set out to do when we delayed step 4, vaccinating millions more people and providing them with the best possible protection against this virus. By 19 July, every adult will have had the chance to receive a first dose of the vaccine and two thirds of adults will have received a second dose, which is so crucial for protecting ourselves and others.

“As a result of our vaccines and the phenomenal national effort over the last few months, that crucial link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths has been weakened, but this is far from the end of dealing with the virus and we must continue to be cautious.”

She added: “The Prime Minister will review the latest data tomorrow and set out our plans for step four.

“We need to learn to live with the virus, but caution remains key. The Prime Minister will urge the public to continue to use their freedoms responsibly, so we do not put at risk the progress we have worked so hard for.”

Calls for Mr Johnson to hold his nerve on the issue were yesterday led by Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee which represents Conservative backbenchers.

Sir Graham has been a critic of the lockdown strategy and this week survived an attempt by Mr Johnson’s supporters to unseat him from the influential chairmanship.

He said: “Those who have become advocates for never-ending lockdown we’re always going to object when the Prime Minister announced that he is progressing to stage 4 of his roadmap – but giving people back control over their own lives is the right thing to do, he should stick to his instincts for freedom and continue undeterred.”

North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen added: “As the Prime Minister said if not now when will we unlock?

“He has to look at the wider picture of the impact of lockdown on health and the economy, not just covid.

“We also have to recognise that the average age of somebody dying with covid now is 84 which is above the average life expectancy.”

Controversially, Mr Johnson does plan to keep emergency powers legislation in place until it runs out in March next year leaving the door open to another lockdown.#But from Monday compulsory mask wearing will end, along with restrictions on meeting and social distancing.

Restaurants and pubs will no longer need to use bar codes and events of more than 30 people can go ahead.

The restrictions were originally meant to have been lifted on June 21 but were delayed a month to ensure more people were vaccinated.

However, there were concerns that the government may try to revive controversial plans for covid passports in pubs which the hospitality sector have claimed is unworkable.

The proposal is meant to encourage younger people to take the vaccine even if they do not need it for their own protection.

The covid passports would be given to people who are doubled vaccinated or have immunity because they had the disease recently.

A Downing Street source told The Times: “In autumn vaccine passports could become an important tool that will allow us to keep things open.” 

However, A Conservative MP has told the Sunday Express that they believe the government will not push the scheme and instead it is aimed at “coercing” those who have not been vaccinated yet.

Meanwhile, a group of pro-Lockdown scientists have launched a final attempt to stop the unlocking on July 19.

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) Government advisory panel told Times Radio that “there is a risk” with the planned July 19 reopening, when the Government is expected to lift the vast majority of remaining coronavirus restrictions.

It comes at a time when cases are rising, and Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said deaths were beginning to rise again too.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’ve only just heard in this bulletin about the rising numbers of cases, the rising numbers of people requiring hospital treatment, in intensive care and sadly deaths are starting to rise again, too.

“There seems to be a misapprehension that life will return to normal from then (July 19), and that we can throw away all the precautions, and frankly, that would be dangerous.”

The rate of new cases of coronavirus in most areas of England is now back at levels last seen during the winter.

Dr Tildesley said it was not for him to say whether the reopening should go ahead, but added: “What I will say is it’s a very difficult decision for the Government.”

When it was suggested to him the UK is living in a “bit of an experiment” in relation to lifting most restrictions, he told Times Radio: “In a sense we are.

“But also I think when we compare with most other countries we do have much higher levels of vaccine rates than most other countries.”

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said in a statement: “There is little doubt that things will get worse before they get better.”

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