Highlights from the UK Government’s daily press briefing
Monday 22 February 2021:Today, in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-step roadmap to ease restrictions across England. You can read the full roadmap here.
Below are the key highlights from this announcement:
Johnson outlined four steps for easing the lockdown restrictions. Before proceeding to the next ‘Step’ of the plan, the government will examine data to assess the previous ‘Step’s’ impact. This assessment will be subject to four tests:
1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
4. The government’s assessment of the risks is not “fundamentally changed” by new variants of COVID-19
- Johnson noted that there would be a minimum of five weeks between each ‘Step’:
- Step 1, part 1: From 8 March: As before, people can leave home for work if they cannot work from home and to escape illness, injury or risk of harm, including domestic abuse.
- Step 1, part 2: From 29 March
- Step 2: At least five weeks after Step 1, and no earlier than 12 April: People should continue to work from home where they can, minimise domestic travel where they can.
- Step 3: No earlier than 17 May: The government will continue to advise the public to work from home where they can
- Ahead of Step 4, as more is understood about the impact of vaccines on transmission and a far greater proportion of the population has been vaccinated, the government will complete a review of social distancing measures and other long-term measures that have been put in place to limit transmission. The results of the review will help inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which rules on 1m+, face masks and other measures may be lifted. The review will also inform guidance on working from home - people should continue to work from home where they can until this review is complete.
- Step 4: No earlier than 21 June
- Johnson added that four reviews would be set up:
- Assessment of how long social distancing would need to be retained and how long working from home would have to remain in place
- An assessment looking at the resumption of international travel
- A review looking at COVID-status certification. Johnson stated that this would be mindful of concerns regarding exclusion, discrimination, and privacy
- A review looking at the potential for a safe return of major events
- The government’s offer of free test kits to workplaces for staff who cannot work at home will be extended to until the end of June. Organisations, including those yet to open, will need to register interest before 31 March. The government will keep this under review as vaccine deployment continues and will investigate how testing could be used to support the recovery.
- The government’s roadmap mentions that businesses must also continue to take necessary precautions as restrictions ease. The overwhelming majority of the businesses that remained open during the pandemic did so in a COVID-Secure way. The government will update COVID Secure guidance to provide further advice on how businesses can improve fresh air flow in indoor workplaces and introduce regular testing to reduce risk. Local authorities will also continue to offer advice.
- On vaccines:
- Across the UK, over 17.5 million people have been vaccinated
- In England, everyone in the top four priority groups was offered a vaccine by the middle of February
- Johnson added that the Government will aim to offer a first dose of vaccines to all those in groups 5 to 9 by 15 April
- Johnson also announced a target of offering the first dose to every adult by the end of July
- Due to infection rates being relatively similar across England, the government is planning to ease restrictions at the same time across the country.
Monday 8 February 2021:In today’s government press conference, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that the government is expanding its offer of regular workplace testing to all businesses with over 50 employees in currently open sectors. Hancock urged all eligible employers to take up this offer. Below are the highlights from the rest of the press conference.
- Hancock added that over 12.2 million people had now been vaccinated
- He stated that the government had offered a vaccine to every eligible care home and that take-up of the vaccine stood at 93%
On the vaccination rollout, Hancock said that
the government was on track to offer everyone in priority groups 1-4 a
vaccine by 15 February
Today, the UK recorded 333 new deaths and
14,104 new cases since yesterday
Monday 18 January 2021:Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced this evening that more than 4 million people have now received the first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19.
Below are the highlights from the UK Government’s press briefing:
- The UK population is being vaccinated at twice the rate of other European countries. The successful rollout of the vaccination scheme means that the UK will move on to vaccinate those over 70 this week.
- The Health Secretary noted that the speed of vaccination rollout is limited by the supply of manufacturers but added that that ten new vaccination centres were opened today alone.
- The NHS continues to be ‘under significant pressure’, however, as one person is hospitalised every 30 seconds on average.
- Hancock added that more 37,475 people in the UK are currently hospitalised with COVID-19, amounting to the highest total at any point during the pandemic. The UK has recorded 599 new deaths and 37,535 new cases since yesterday.