Europe

Boris 'to give green light for Freedom Day' – despite 50% wanting delay

The Prime Minister is set to announce Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted on July 19 in England despite 50% of people saying ‘Freedom Day’ should be delayed.  

Boris Johnson detailed proposals earlier this week to eliminate a series of rules on mask-wearing, social contact, mass events and the instruction to work from home.

He is expected to give the final go-ahead tomorrow.

But a new Opinium poll for the Observer showed 50% of people wanted to see the lifting of restrictions delayed, compared to 31% who thought it should still go ahead. 

The data also showed 73% of respondents thought face-coverings should still be worn on public transport. 

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi admitted today the Government is confident plans to lift a range of Covid-19 restrictions will go ahead but mask-wearing in indoor enclosed places will be expected.

It comes after Johnson was warned it would be ‘dangerous’ to drop all restrictions on July 19 due to rising cases.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday: ‘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.’

She said she had been ‘profoundly concerned’ over restrictions lifting.

Warning of the pressures already faced by medical staff, she added: ‘It feels in hospitals and GP surgeries as like the middle of winter in terms of how busy we are, rather than July, which would normally see a very low number of infections.’

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 reopening.

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

Patient numbers have risen to levels last seen around three months ago.

And there has been a very slight increase in the average number of deaths reported each day of people in England who died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

But the Government has argued that the high rate of vaccinations in Britain means the link between infections and serious illness or death has largely been broken.

On Sunday, the UK recorded 31,772 new cases and a further 26 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

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