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Covid news – live: Boris Johnson unveils lockdown exit plan with timetable for next months

UK Covid-19 vaccinations: Latest figures

Boris Johnson has begun unveiling his road map for lifting lockdown restrictions in England to MPs, presenting his “cautious” approach to reuniting families and seeing children return to school in the House of Commons on Monday.

The prime minister is expected to hold a news conference further detailing the plans at 7pm GMT.

Under the road map, all schools in England will be expected to reopen on 8 March, while up to six people or two households will be allowed to meet outdoors from 29 March.

The plan for easing restrictions comes as a Scotland study found that Covid-19 vaccines distributed across the UK substantially reduce the risk of hospital admissions.

Four weeks after first doses of the vaccine being rolled out, both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs were found to cut hospitalisations with the disease by up to 85 per cent and 94 per respectively.

The research, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, is the first of its kind confirming the impact of the UK’s vaccine rollout.


Boris Johnson unveiling road map out of lockdown to MPs

Boris Johnson has begun unveiling his road map for lifting lockdown restrictions in England to MPs, presenting his “cautious” approach to reuniting families and seeing children return to school in the House of Commons on Monday.

Chantal Da Silva22 February 2021 15:41

Prince William says he would be at ‘front of the queue’ for Covid jab to prove it is okay

The Duke of Cambridge has said he would gladly be at the “front of the queue” for a coronavirus jab to prove that it is okay. However, he said, he will “wait my turn”.

Prince William made the comments during his first official in-person event of the year, paying a visit to his local coronavirus vaccination centre at the King’s Lynn Corn Exchange, a few miles from his Norfolk home.

The duke, who had coronavirus last year spoke with staff and volunteers at the site.

His visit came as the Duke of Edinburgh remains at the King Edward VII’s Hospital in London after feeling unwell.

Asked about Prince Philip, Prince William winked and said the Duke of Edinburgh was “okay”, adding hospital workers were “keeping an eye on him”, PA reported.

Chantal Da Silva22 February 2021 15:13

Sending all pupils back to school at once could send Covid cases ‘through the roof’, Sturgeon says

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to announce a road map set to see students return to schools next month, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that allowing all schoolchildren back at the same time could send coronavirus transmission “through the roof”.

Asked why the Scottish Government had not taken the same approach as Mr Johnson’s government, Ms Sturgeon said: “If we were to do that right now we would send transmission through the roof again very quickly.”

The First Minister, said the “fear” was that a full return to schools would increase interactions across the population generally.

Questioned on her own approach, the First Minister said: “Is it ideal? No. Because I want every child back to school right now.

“But I think that is the most sensible and sustainable way of doing this, in a way that is going to stick.”

Chantal Da Silva22 February 2021 15:07

Westminster worker who died of Covid-19 after battle with cancer remembered in House of Commons

House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle marked the passing of a Westminster catering service worker who died last week after contracting Covid-19 following a battle with cancer.

On Monday, Sir Lindsay said the worker, identified as Julia Clifford, had passed away last week “just after bravely fighting cancer”.

He said she had joined the Westminster cafeteria services team in October 1985.

“She was a very hardworking and popular member of our parliamentary family who always had a smile and time for everybody,” Sir Lindsay said.

The speaker said he had put forward a recommendation to consider the renaming of the members tea room to “Julia’s tea room”.

“The tea room will never be them same ,” he said.

Other MPs also joined in offering their condolences to Ms Clifford’s family.

Chantal Da Silva22 February 2021 14:44

Boris Johnson to unveil road map out of lockdown to MPs in an hour

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil his road map leading England out of lockdown to MPs in the Commons at around 3.30pm on Monday.

Later this evening, at around 7pm, he will lead a Downing Street press conference making a full announcement on the plans.

Read more on the prime minister’s announcements here:

Chantal Da Silva22 February 2021 14:35

Primary school children in Wales set to return to class from mid-March

Primary school children in Wales are set to return to their classrooms from 15 March if conditions allow, the country’s education minister has said.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Kirsty Williams said the Welsh Government would ideally also like to see students in years 11 and 13, as well as some students in colleges, return to schools from the same date.

“Unfortunately, for those learners in secondary settings or colleges, this won’t necessarily be a return to full-time on-site learning.”

She said the plan for other students would be confirmed before the Easter holidays. However, she said her own preference was to “get all learners back in school after the break”.

Chantal Da Silva22 February 2021 14:33

Further restrictions could be necessary in winter if variants ‘escape immunity’, expert warns

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) has warned that further coronavirus restrictions could be necessary if variants “escape immunity”.

“When we have got a road map, we need to be clear about where we are going,” Prof Hayward told BBC Radio 4’s World At One on Monday.

“It’s obvious that we are not really going for an elimination agenda, or at least that is fairly unlikely, unless the vaccine is a lot better than we think it might be,” he said. “So, somehow we have got to learn to live with the virus and that really means making decisions about how many deaths and how many hospitalisations we are prepared to live with.”

However, he warned: “The new variants could change our equations on all of that, if we have new variants that do escape immunity and the vaccine is less effective.

“Then I think we could still be looking at the need for further restrictions, for example in the winter.”

Chantal Da Silva22 February 2021 14:23

Nearly 15.5M Covid jabs distributed in England since December

More than 15.4 million Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England from early December to last week, NHS England data has shown.

A total of 15,471,509 were distributed across the country between 8 December and 21 February, according to the data, with the figures including first and second doses.

Of the total, 14,958,074 jabs were for the first dose of a vaccine, while 513,435 were for a second dose.

Chantal Da Silva22 February 2021 14:21

People with ‘mild or moderate’ learning difficulties to receive vaccine in Scotland’s next phase

People with “mild or moderate” learning difficulties are set to be vaccinated as part of the Scottish Government’s next phase of its vaccination rollout programme.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the decision on Monday at a coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh.

First, as part of the priority group six, the largest group to be vaccinated so far, people suffering from severe learning difficulties will receive vaccinations alongside those with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease.

Group six is the largest group which has been vaccinated thus far, being made up of around one million people, the First Minister said.

With group six being made up of around one million people, Ms Sturgeon said “it will take some weeks to provide first doses to everyone in that group”.

“If you don’t receive a letter giving you an appointment this week or next week, I would ask you not to worry, we will get to you as quickly as possible,” she said.

Chantal Da Silva22 February 2021 14:12

Scotland’s lockdown easing plan to be ‘broadly similar’ to England

Scotland’s plan to ease out of lockdown will be “broadly similar” to the Boris Johnson government’s, but not identical, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

“Our plans out of lockdown will not be identical, they are already not identical because we’ve got some kids back in school today which is not the case in England until into March, so we will not be identical but I think there will be broad similarities,” Ms Sturgeon said at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Monday, according to PA.

“Similar to us, it seems that they have prioritised children and education and getting life back to normal before doing other things,” she said.

“So I think the principles will be the same – we’re living through the same pandemic,” she said.

“There is a limit to how much it is sensible to diverge in the circumstances we’re facing in common but clearly we will make our own judgments about the particular order and the particular timing of that because the data is not identical in each of the four nations.”

Ms Sturgeon is expected to set out plans for Scotland’s gradual easing of lockdown rules at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, a day after Mr Johnson outlines his own road map.

She has said her plan will give an idea of the phasing of restrictions lifting, but would not provide exact reopening dates.

“We will seek to set out tomorrow an indicative order of priority and the likely phasing of firstly the gradual lifting of the current lockdown restrictions and then in due course, a return to the geographic levels system when we would decide whether all or parts of the country may move out of Level 4 and into Level 3, and of course that’s the part where more parts of the economy will start to open up,” she said.

“This will be a cautious way forward because it’s really important that as we come out of this lockdown, we do so sustainably.”

Chantal Da Silva22 February 2021 13:56