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Coronavirus news — live: Lockdown to ease for millions as PM wishes people getting back to sport ‘good luck’

Matt Hancock ‘thrilled’ 30 million people have had Covid-19 vaccination

Boris Johnson has wished those getting back to team sports tomorrow “good luck” as England prepares for the next stage of its roadmap out of lockdown.

The prime minister said it is “great so many will be able to get back out there” following “a difficult few months” as the rules are set to relax on Monday.

England has been urged to hold its nerve when lockdown restrictions ease and stay-at-home orders end in the next step out of lockdown so as not to “squander the gains” made against coronavirus, as groups of six people or two households are again allowed to socialise in parks and gardens.

While Mr Johnson said he had seen “absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap to freedom” by 21 June, NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis warned Covid-19 still has the capacity to “wreak more havoc and ill health on a significant scale”, adding: “We need to hold our nerve and drive for the line.”

It came as Mark Woolhouse, a professor of epidemiology who advises the government, said it will be necessary to maintain the UK’s test and trace capacity as we learn to “live with this virus”, adding that self-isolation for those who have contact with Covid is “going to remain important for the entire future”.

Meanwhile, ministers celebrated as government figures showed 30 million people have now received their first dose of vaccine.

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International travel and vaccines

He told BBC News on Sunday that while the vaccine programme could allow the UK to return to a “level of freedom”, other countries will take a long time to roll out jabs.

“Domestically it’s pretty easy for us to get back to a level of freedom given how well our vaccination campaign is going,” the government scientific adviser said.

“But this is a global problem, it could be a long time before some countries get the vaccines they need to be able to fully unlock and start international travel again.”

He added: “So we do need to look more widely, if we want to have a free UK as we did 18 months ago, but also allow international travel, we do need to think about sending vaccines to those countries where they are not able to acquire the levels of vaccines we have been able to.”

Here is a reminder of what the key dates are for travel in the roadmap to easing England’s lockdown:

Additional reporting by Press Association

Zoe Tidman28 March 2021 21:05

‘Good position’ to ease lockdown restrictions, scientific adviser says

Speaking the day before the next stage of lockdown easing, a government scientific adviser said the country was in a “good position” to ease restrictions.  

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (SPI-M) said that coming out of lockdown needed to be done cautiously and at a pace that the vaccine rollout can keep up with.

“But the key thing is it needs to be done at a pace that we can monitor the situation and the vaccinations can keep up with that. So I think it is the right decision to start relaxing.”

Dr Tildesley added:“I am relatively confident that if things keep going as well as they have been going we should be on target to hopefully relax

Additional reporting by PA

Zoe Tidman28 March 2021 20:50

Lockdown rules

Downing Street has tweeted a reminder about what will – and still won’t – be allowed from tomorrow, as England’s lockdown eases:

Zoe Tidman28 March 2021 20:30

‘We may see cases rise a little bit’

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (SPI-M), the modelling subgroup of Sage, said that a third wave of infections from Europe could lead to more Covid cases.

But he told BBC News on Sunday that the successful vaccination programme could mean this will not lead to more people going into hospital or dying.

He added: “This time we have got a very successful vaccination campaign, we have high levels of protection among the vulnerable, we may see cases rise a little bit.

“Hopefully, because we have that high level of protection for the vulnerable population, we won’t see a similar rise in hospital occupancy and rise in deaths.”

Zoe Tidman28 March 2021 20:10

What will ease from tomorrow?

As England prepares to ease some of its lockdown rules tomorrow, here is a reminder of what will change:

• Outdoor gatherings – including in private garden – of either six people or two households will be allowed

• Outdoor childcare and children’s supervised activities can resume with up to 15 people.

• Outdoor sports clubs and outdoor organised sports can reopen and restart.

Here is a reminder of the roadmap and its stages:

Zoe Tidman28 March 2021 19:50

FA unveils plan to boost grassroots football amid lockdown lifting

The Football Association has unveiled a £180m plan to boost grassroots football over the next four seasons, as restrictions on outdoor sport in England lift on Monday. 

Melissa Reddy, senior football correspondent, reports:

Zoe Tidman28 March 2021 19:20

Johnson looks forward to return of team sports

Boris Johnson has wished those getting back to sports tomorrow “good luck” as England prepares to ease restrictions:

Zoe Tidman28 March 2021 19:10

Here are the other key dates for travel in the plan for easing lockdown:

Zoe Tidman28 March 2021 19:02

How will the next stage of the roadmap affect travel?

The first key date for travel in the roadmap out of lockdown comes tomorrow, when a host of restrictions are set to be lifted.

While overnight stays are still off limits under this next step, the “stay at home” message will no longer apply and socialising outdoors will become possible again.

Helen Coffey has the details:

Zoe Tidman28 March 2021 18:25

Hancock ‘thrilled’ at 30 million first doses

Matt Hancock says he is “absolutely thrilled” at the news that 30 million patients in the UK have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Bethany Dawson has the full story:

Zoe Tidman28 March 2021 18:00