England warned ‘not to squander gains’ made in Covid fight on eve of lockdown easing

Boris Johnson addresses UK one year on from first lockdown

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Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, described the new week as a possible “turning point”. His remarks follow those of the Prime Minister, who said there is “nothing in the data to dissuade” him from postponing markers on the lockdown exit roadmap.

Scientists and politicians are urging caution amid significant progress with Britain’s inoculation drive.

SAGE adviser Professor Andrew Hayward has said a fourth wave is “highly likely”, but believes it would not be as damaging due to the progress made in tackling the virus so far.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Prof Powis said: “We all hope this weekend marks a turning point: the last under the toughest limits on our freedom and the first when we can look forward to a week during which we can experience something akin to our pre-pandemic routines.”

He added: “We’ve made enormous progress that we need to build on and not squander the gains we’ve made. 

“We need to hold our nerve and drive for the line, so everyone can get back safely and soon to our normal lives.”

Boris Johnson’s roadmap signposted schools reopening on Monday, March 8 followed by outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households from March 29, with the ‘rule of six’ allowing the return of outdoor meetings. 

Shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality are signposted for reopening on April 12, while two households may be able to mix in homes from May 17.

Speaking to the virtual Conservative Party spring conference on Saturday, Boris Johnson said: “I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap to freedom.

Social distancing measures will remain in place until June 21 at the earliest.

He said: “I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap to freedom.

“In just a few days’ time, I’m finally going to be able to go to the barbers.

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“But more important than that, I’m going to be able to go down the street and cautiously, but irreversibly, I’m going to drink a pint of beer in the pub.”

On Monday, March 29, groups of six people, including two households, will be able to meet in parks and gardens again as the stay-at-home order ends.

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