Boris Johnson urged to lift Covid lockdown faster and allow foreign holidays as infections hit six-month low

BORIS Johnson has been urged to lift the lockdown faster and allow foreign holidays – as infections and deaths in the UK today hit a six-month low.

The Prime Minister is facing increased pressure to unlock earlier after four NHS regions covering 29million people in southern England reported no deaths on Sunday.

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In total, 23 deaths were recorded elsewhere that day.

On average, 63 people are dying with Covid every day – a 95 per cent plunge from January's crippling peak.

And levels are similar to those recorded last summer, shortly before the ban on meeting friends and family indoors ended.

Despite that, the PM has vowed to stick to his "cautious but irreversible" roadmap to ease restrictions.

It means pubs, restaurants and hotels can't open fully for another seven weeks at least – while trips abroad won't happen until May 17.

Last night, however, a source told The Sun the date for holidays may well be pushed back – as the picture in Europe and elsewhere "is still too bleak to make a clear decision".

It comes as:

  • Boris Johnson warns there'll be more deaths as lockdown eases
  • A new jab factory will supply the UK after the EU's supply threats
  • Matt Hancock says the door 'isn't shut' on foreign hols this summer
  • New Covid cases plunge 13 per cent in a week
  • Under-50s who live with vulnerable people may be eligible for jabs

The PM confirmed that an update on holidays will be unveiled on April 5, Easter Monday.

He said the most important thing is to continue to vaccinate people in "great numbers", adding that he'll soon reveal "what the global travel taskforce has come up with".

But sources told The Sun: "Don’t expect a firm date then.” 

And 40 MPs have now sent the Prime Minister a letter urging him to avoid delaying a decision on travel.

The group of cross-party MPs warned that the country will face a longer road to recovery without tourism – and said holidays are essential, the Daily Mail reports.

It comes as millions of people in England enjoyed the first step in relaxing lockdown today as the 'stay at home' order ends and the rule of six returns.

People were seen meeting friends and family for the first time in months as the easing coincided with a mini-heatwave.

Addressing the nation from Downing Street yesterday, Chris Whitty said one of the main worries about opening up the country for international travel was the risk of importing a new variant from abroad.

He said: "The main thing we're concerned about is the risk of importing into the UK variants which could have a reduced effectiveness of the vaccines we're currently using.

"In the short term, that is the principal thing that's driving concerns about border issues at this stage."

But Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the 70-strong Covid Recovery Group of Tory MPs, told the Mail: "Ministers' monomaniacal focus on Covid cases is leaving us stuck with these roadmap dates, despite the fact that the vaccine has clearly broken the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths. 

"It is fiendishly frustrating when so many people are suffering so greatly from the restrictions."

And Itsu food chain founder Julian Metcalfe said: "All the Government can do is promise the country they'll stick to the data and the facts, and the facts say there is a lot to celebrate with the vaccine and the numbers, which are absolutely plummeting.

"Every week makes an enormous difference to us and everybody on the high street."

However, the PM has urged caution – and warned more Brits will die as restrictions ease.

He said: "Historically at least, there has been a time lag, and then we have had a wave ourselves.

"That's why I stress the importance of everybody maintaining the discipline people have shown for so long."

He said it was only after "months of sacrifice that we can take this small step towards freedom" – adding that people have "overwhelmingly" obeyed the rules.

But there's brighter news – as with all of the country's most vulnerable now immunised, the number of over-65s testing positive for Covid has fallen below 200 a day.

Meanwhile, cases among over-80s are averaging just 78 a day, after topping 3,000 in early January.

Currently, there are 4,560 Covid patients are in hospital – down from 39,249 in mid-January.

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