Boris Johnson warns there WILL be more deaths as lockdown eases and we must work 'flat out' to 'build our defences'

BORIS Johnson today stressed people "must proceed with caution" as the nation unlocks – and warned there WILL be more infections and deaths in the months to come.

As he appeared in the swanky new media briefing room in nine Downing Street today, he warned another wave would hit the UK and wash up on our shores.

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Outdoor reunions with up to six family and friends, plus the return of organised sport and weddings, resumed today in a huge boost to the public mood.

PM Boris Johnson has lifted the stay-at-home guidance to allow groups of up to six, or two households, to meet outside in England.

He hailed the lowest number of infections for six months – and stressed that deaths and hospital admissions are continuing to fall across the UK.

However, speaking at tonight's No10 press conference alongside Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty, he urged people to be careful and continue to follow the rules.

It was only after "months of sacrifice that we can take this small step towards freedom today", he added, and that people have "overwhelmingly" obeyed the rules.

"We must proceed with caution."

He said it was "inevitable" that the wave hitting Europe would affect us in the coming months.

"That wave is still rising across the Channel," he warned.

The PM told the nation tonight: "As we advance on this roadmap that there will be more infections and unavoidably more hospitalizations and sadly, more deaths. So what we need to do is to continue flat out to build the immunity of our population, build our defences against that wave, when it comes."

It came as:

  • The PM confirmed this evening that a new jabs factory would be set up in the North of England to try and produce as many jabs as possible in the UK
  • And the public mocked that it would be
  • The ‘stay home' message has been ditched, so it will not be illegal to travel to see relatives outdoors further afield
  • But the public are urged to minimise travel when they do meet up with friends and family
  • People will be allowed to meet with up to six others – or two households – outside
  • Weddings can resume again in small numbers
  • Outdoor sport has restarted with people allowed to play golf and go swimming outdoors again
  • Chris Whitty warned there would be "some uptick" in cases thanks to today's unlocking – and the young would be hit harder
  • Boris confirmed again that he would make an announcement on holidays on April 5 – next Monday

The Chief Medical Officer said as long as people stick to social distancing and stay outside, it would keep transmission low.

And Professor Whitty warned people not to mix indoors with others this Easter – even if they've had two vaccines.

He said tonight: "We therefore anticipate that as there is gradual unlocking in the way the Prime Minister has described, it is inevitable that there will be some increase in the number of cases.

"Because the people who are most likely to catch and transmit Covid are in that younger, unvaccinated group."

He also said that he was most worried about new variants being imported in

Boris warned that cases were starting to show a small rise thanks to schoolkids going back full time earlier this month.

And he promised repeatedly that all the data would be constantly re-evaluated "as we go forward" to make sure that things could safely reopen as planned.

However, he did admit he was "hopeful" that this would be the final lockdown.

It came as the PM confirmed a holidays announcement was on the way in the coming days.

Boris said that the Government would say more next week, on Bank Holiday Monday.

He told the press conference tonight: "At the moment, as you know, it's still forbidden to travel, we'll be saying a bit more on April 5 about what the global travel taskforce has come up with.

"Clearly, at the moment there are lots of countries that are on a red list, 35 countries are on a red list, where we have very stringent measures in place for them, for people arriving from those countries."

He added: "We will be saying more about seeing family abroad and travel abroad, but it won't be until at least April 5."

A No 10 source said: “Today marks the first real freedom for so many people who haven’t seen their loved ones for months.”

Boris wants to kick off “a Great British summer of sport” — urging the public to get outdoors and take in vitamin D to boost immune systems against Covid.

Wellness expert Joshua Charles said everyone will benefit from a surge of endorphins today. He added: “This is going to refresh the nation and renew our love for fitness.

“This is the positivity we have all been missing, the feeling of being part of something and a sense of community we have been craving.

“There will be such a healing impact and positive change in mental health.”

Boris wished the best of luck to “the young and not so young people” returning to sports fields.

He said: “I know how hard it has been to be separated from your team-mates, your coaches and the sports that you love.

“I love sport — and I’m hopeless at it — but I can only imagine how excited you will be to be getting back out there.”

His call was echoed by England cricket captain Eoin Morgan, tennis ace Johanna Konta and rugby hero Kyle Sinckler who all urged people to enjoy the mental and physical benefits of sport.

Rowers were out at 6.30am, along with many brave swimmers who made a splash before dawn.

The Amateur FA, which represents eight million park footballers, said: “Our leagues are back on.”

And Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said “the doors were always open” if Uefa wants England to host more games in this summer’s Euros.

Up to 500,000 couples are racing to tie the knot as weddings with six attendees are allowed again.

Cafés and restaurants serving take-out food will share a £1billion spending lifeline.

M&S expects sausage and burger sales to double year-on-year as we go crazy for barbecues and picnics.

Tesco said: “Many will be cooking up a storm.”

Minister for sport Nigel Huddleston also today confirmed police will not break up large gatherings in private gardens as the Rule of Six resumes.

Mr Huddleston said the police will still hand out fines for large gatherings breaking the rules but "I recognise it's more difficult in people's private gardens”.

Wine sales are up 57 per cent at Waitrose. Beer sales are also up.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and chief medic Chris Whitty urged people to remain cautious as cases rise in Europe and new variants emerge.

Nigel Huddleston, the minister for sport, said members of the public should “think carefully about how they travel” as the stay home rule is scrapped in England today. 

He said: “I think if people are travelling they need to think very carefully about how they travel, where they fill up for petrol, if they need food and so on.”

“You can probably get that locally before you go on the journey because what we don't want is people intermixing in different parts of the country to any greater degree than necessary."

Ministers have also warned that the roadmap could be at risk if Brits don't continue to follow lockdown rules.

Mr Huddlestone urged people to "call out" friends and family who flouted restrictions.

TV’s Dr Hilary Jones is narrating an ad campaign urging people to stay outdoors when meeting pals.

A new slogan: Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air will also be beamed across the nation.

Today is expected to be the biggest day off since last June, when non- essential shops reopened after the first lockdown.

With temperatures of 20C today and 24C tomorrow, seven in ten will be tempted to call in sick to enjoy the sun, research showed.

Experts who deal with questions from staff and firms about absences have seen a near 50 per cent rise in queries relating to this week.

HR firm Law At Work, which monitors 150,000 employees at hundreds of companies, said: “We’ve had a 44 per cent increase in cases where we advise about absence.”


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