Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said “caution is absolutely vital” as he prepares to address the nation on Monday to announce whether the final stage of releasing coronavirus restrictions can go ahead.
The prime minister is expected to confirm that England can move to step four of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, but to also warn “the global pandemic is not over yet” and that cases of the virus will rise as rules are relaxed.
And newly appointed Health Secretary Sajid Javid will announce the plans in parliament.
Ahead of the announcement, the prime minister said: “We are tantalisingly close to the final milestone in our road map out of lockdown, but the plan to restore our freedoms must come with a warning.
“While the phenomenal vaccine rollout has offered every adult some protection against the virus, and the crucial link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths is weakened, the global pandemic is not over yet.
“Cases will rise as we unlock, so as we confirm our plans today, our message will be clear.
“Caution is absolutely vital, and we must all take responsibility so we don’t undo our progress, ensuring we continue to protect our NHS.”
The government has said whether or not the unlocking takes place would depend on four key tests: The success of the vaccination rollout; a reduction in hospitalisations and deaths as a result of the vaccine; that infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions; and that no new variants of concern hamper progress that has been made.
Last month, Mr Johnson announced a delay to the final step of the government’s final stage of lockdown easing to ensure all adults had been offered a vaccine and that more individuals had received two doses.
Data released on Friday showed that 45.7 million (86.9%) adults have received their first jab while 34.5 million (65.6%) have received both doses.
Earlier this month, the prime minister confirmed almost all restrictions would be lifted at step four – including social distancing, the mandatory requirement to wear a mask in certain places and the work from home guidance.
However, Mr Johnson has faced backlash over his decision to remove the mask wearing rule for public transport as cases continue to surge, with both Labour, some doctors and unions criticising the move.
And on Sunday, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News the government will issue guidance stating that people will still be “expected to wear masks in indoor, enclosed places” after the final step of releasing lockdown restrictions.
Mr Zahawi said he was “confident” that the prime minister would be able to announce on Monday that COVID restrictions will be lifted on 19 July as planned, but that Mr Johnson will inform the public they should continue to wear face coverings in crowded places – despite the legal requirement to do so ending.
Last week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs he is “very relaxed” about airlines, train firms and bus operators imposing their own COVID-related rules, including on wearing face masks, beyond 19 July.
Shadow education secretary Kate Green told Sky News the changing positions from government ministers is a “recipe for confusion” and said Labour believes “mandatory mask-wearing should continue in public places”.
Wales has already deviated from the UK Government’s position on mask wearing, announcing that face masks will remain mandatory there in some public places until COVID-19 is no longer a public health threat.
Masks must still be worn in taxis, on trains and buses, as well as health and social care settings when coronavirus restrictions are eased, the Welsh government said.
Lee Anderson suspended from Conservative Party after ‘Islamophobic’ comments
Lee Anderson has been suspended from the Conservative party after ‘Islamophobic’ comments.
A spokesperson for Chief Whip Simon Hart said: “Following his refusal to apologise for comments made yesterday, the Chief Whip has suspended the Conservative whip from Lee Anderson MP.”
Speaking on GB News this week, Mr Anderson, MP for Ashfield, said: “I don’t actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London… He’s actually given our capital city away to his mates.”
Earlier today Sadiq Khan accused the prime minister of being “complicit” in racism for failing to condemn Mr Anderson‘s comments that “pour fuel on the fire of anti-Muslim hatred”.
Mr Khan said the claim by the former deputy chairman of Tory party were Islamophobic and sent the message that Muslims were “fair game” when it came to racism.
The remarks prompted criticism from Labour and some Tories, including former cabinet minister Sajid Javid who branded them “ridiculous”.
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King Charles shown chuckling at get well card featuring dog in a head cone
The King has been shown having a chuckle at cards sent by well-wishers, including one of a dog with the caption “at least you don’t have to wear a cone!”.
The 75-year-old monarch has been sent around 7,000 messages of support from around the world since his cancer diagnosis.
Newly released images and footage show King Charles looking through some of them at his desk in Buckingham Palace’s Belgian Suite.
He seemed particularly tickled by a card featuring an illustration of a terrier-like dog in a head cone, recovering from medical treatment.
Pets often wear plastic collars after an operation, to stop them aggravating a wound or stitches.
Other cards spread out in front of the King include one that reads “Your Majesty Get Well Soon”, while a number appear to be hand-drawn by children.
Many have related their own experience of cancer, with messages such as: “Chin up, chest out, remain positive and don’t let it get you down.”
“Never give up. Be brave. Don’t push your limits. Get Well Soon,” says one note from a child.
Those who’ve included their address will be sent a message of thanks.
The King was pictured reading the cards on Wednesday – the same day he met the prime minister for their weekly audience.
He told Rishi Sunak that he’d been “reduced to tears” by the public’s support.
“I’ve had so many wonderful messages and cards, it has reduced me to tears most of the time,” King Charles told the prime minister.
He added: “I hear there has been a lot more potential attention on those main, wonderful cancer charities, many of which I have been a patron of for years.”
The King had been mostly staying at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk following his first round of treatment in London.
Buckingham Palace announced on 5 February that cancer had been discovered while undergoing a procedure for an enlarged prostate.
The Palace has not released details about the type of cancer or the treatment.
Professional golfer Georgia Ball can ‘see the funny side’ after ‘mansplaining’ TikTok video goes viral
Professional female golfer Georgia Ball has said she can “see the funny side” after a video of an amateur player “mansplaining” to her about her swing went viral.
Ball, a certified PGA pro and instructor, also told Sky Sports she did not put the man in his place during the “awkward” conversation because she is a “humble person”.
The TikTok video of the incident she shared earlier this week has had more than 10 million views and over 26,000 comments, with many social media users mocking the man for “mansplaining”.
In the clip, Ball, who regularly shares instructional videos on her account, is seen practising her swing at a driving range near Liverpool.
A man off camera then says: “Excuse me, what you’re doing there, you shouldn’t be doing that… swing and follow through.”
He goes on to tell her that she is “too slow on the way up”.
Ball explains she is going through a “swing change” – something golfers regularly do to improve their technique.
However, the man continues: “I know, but what you’re doing there is you’re coming back too slow.
“I’ve been playing golf for 20 years, what you need to do is follow through a lot quicker than what you’re doing there right now.”
She explains again that she is going through a swing change, but the man continues to advise that she needs to move her club quicker.
Ball then cleanly strikes the ball into the distance before the man says: “See how much better that was?”
The professional golfer explains once again that she is practising a swing change, before the man repeats that he “has been playing for 20 years” and that she should carry on playing the way he has advised her to.
Ball then laughs, before sarcastically adding: “Thanks for your advice.”
Asked by Sky Sports how she felt during the interaction, Ball said: “It was an awkward conversation at the time but I was just concentrating on what I was doing… I am glad I can look back on it now and see the funny side to it.”
When asked if she was ever tempted to put the man in his place, she said: “To be honest, I am a humble person, it is not in me to call him out or say I am a PGA pro, it is just not in me to do that.”
Ball added that she never got the chance to see the man hit a ball, so was unable to pass comment on his swing.
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