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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the UK's lockdown restrictions are on course to end as planned – and told us all to get outside and "enjoy the beautiful weather".
The PM revealed that the heavy-handed "stay at home" approach has helped the nation combat coronavirus infections at a time when the country's vaccine rollout has also helped the NHS cope much better than the same time last year.
Speaking from a new-look media studio inside No.9 Downing Street, BoJo said it had been "a big day for all of us" now that we could see more friends and family again.
He went on: "It is only because of months of sacrifice and effort that we can take this small step towards freedom today, and we must proceed with caution.
"That wave is still rising across the Channel and it is inevitable as we advance on this roadmap that there will be more infections, more hospitalisations and sadly, more deaths."
The Prime Minister went on to urge Brits to take the chance to enjoy this week's sunny weather alongside the change in Covid restrictions.
He said: "Without being overly preachy, I do hope that we can take this moment to enjoy the beautiful weather to play sport, to have fun and to build our national resilience together.
"The way to continue on our roadmap to freedom is to follow the rules."
Today's press conference was also the first glimpse the British public got of PM Boris Johnson’s brand spanking new £2.6m Downing Street media studio in action.
A former courtroom has been transformed to a White House-style briefing centre. The move is now without controversy as Tory blue partly covers the wood-panelled walls – despite it being a government project.
The government's planned regular televised briefings, to be fronted by the PM’s Press Secretary Allegra Stratton from the same studio, have been repeatedly delayed due to the Covid pandemic. They still have no start date.
Rule of six explained – and does new lockdown restriction include children and babies?
Boris Johnson's private life was thrust into the spotlight over the weekend over bombshell claims of an extra-marital affair from businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri – including allegations the pair had sex in the prime minister's then marital home.
The government's 'stay at home' messaging to people in England has today been dropped – with a new slogan introduced to remind the public of how to slow the spread of the virus: 'Hands, face, space and fresh air.'
Monday's easing of lockdown restrictions means people can meet outside in groups of up to six, or two households, including in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities are reopening while weddings can take place attended by up to six people.
UK weather: Heatwave to make England hotter than Ibiza just in time for lockdown easing
But there are still some rules it is important all Brits abide by to make sure Covid infections don't suddenly spike again past manageable levels.
The next step on the roadmap, which will happen no earlier than April 12, will see shops reopening and pubs and restaurants able to welcome customers for outdoor service.
Pubs and indoor hospitality are then due to
Mr Johnson has previously said he hopes the easing will "kickstart a Great British summer of sport" on the nation's football and cricket pitches, tennis and basketball courts and in outdoor swimming pools.
- Boris Johnson
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