Great Britain

Furious Tories warn Boris Johnson not to delay Freedom Day again as teens begin to get their Covid jabs

FURIOUS Tory MPs have warned Boris Johnson not to delay Freedom Day again — as teens yesterday began to get their Covid-19 jabs.

The Prime Minister insisted he was “very confident” the final restrictions would be lifted on July 19 — but his backbenchers still made their feelings felt.

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Mr Johnson reiterated the new deadline, which was pushed forward four weeks from Monday, will be the “terminus date”.

But Tory MP Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, said: “This delay is already causing devastation and must be the final time ministers impose these sorts of restrictions.

“I hope they start trusting the data. With such a brilliantly fast and efficient vaccination rollout, now is the time to do everything we can to help businesses recover and society to regain its mental strength — and to unleash Britain's true potential.”

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith added: “We need to unlock now, and we should revisit in two weeks time not wait till July 19 to make a decision.
“It's quite clear from the latest data the link with hospitalisation has been broken. We need to get on with it.”

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 committee, added: “As the vaccination programme moves on at pace, there is growing clamour amongst the public to see life return to normal”

Tory MP Siobhan Baillie added: “Right now, a father of the bride has to wear a mask to walk his daughter down the aisle but he can take it off when he sits next to her for the wedding meal.

“It’s unfathomable nonsense and diktat — enough is enough. There must be a vaccine dividend, there must be an end to restrictions when all adults have got the jab, for the sake of our nation’s youth.

“I believe that is the Prime Minister’s instinct and I urge him to act on it. Let’s get up from behind the graphs of doom and silly rules and live again.”

The criticism comes as thousands of eager teenagers queued yesterday up and down the nation to get the life-saving jab after 1.5 million over-18s were given the green light to book them in.

Robyn Coatsworth was one of the first 18-year-olds to get the Pfizer jab at the Stithians Showground vaccination centre in Truro, Cornwall.

Young people in Preston, Lancs, typified what went on across the country by turning up first thing at St John’s Shopping Centre to receive their vaccine.

And today thousands will brave the torrential summer storms to make sure they are vaccinated at centres — such as the Olympic Stadium in East London — in what is dubbed Super Saturday.

Mr Johnson praised Britain’s eager youth for protecting themselves and their wider families against the deadly bug.

The PM said he had been “absolutely in awe of the utter selflessness that our young people have shown in the fight against coronavirus” while missing out on nights out, holidays and festivals.

He added: “I can say for sure there are people alive today, in your town, in your neighbourhood, maybe even within your family, who are only with you because you chose to do the right thing.

“Thank you from the whole nation — let's finish this thing together.”

The final hurdle of the vaccine programme — hailed as a “watershed moment” by NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens — came as top scientists said there were signs the latest wave of infections was already slowing down.

Yesterday saw a slight drop in cases, with 10,476 recorded as the Delta variant continues to spread, with 11 further deaths.

But Covid boffs said that despite the growing figures the outlook was positive, with the peak of the third wave expected in a matter of weeks.

Prof Tim Spector, lead scientist on the ZOE Covid study app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “This has been a much better week.

“Rates in the North West and Scotland are still going up but you can definitely see signs they are starting to level off. London looks like it’s starting to slow down.

“If we look at the way past waves have come and gone, I would be predicting that this should be peaking in around ten to 14 days time and then start to fall.”

Four in five adults in the UK have already had their first dose but the race is on to reach all eligible Brits before the expected lifting of restrictions next month.

One in 520 people is estimated to have Covid outside of hospitals in England, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.

This is up slightly from one in 560 in the previous week.

A total of 75,953 confirmed and probable cases of the Covid-19 Delta variant have now been identified in the UK, Public Health England said.

This is up by 79 per cent on the previous week.

The most recent data shows 99 per cent of the 75,953 confirmed cases of coronavirus this week have been this variant that originated in India.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said the increase across the UK is being driven by younger age groups.

Of the 806 patients admitted to hospital with the strand last week, 65 per cent were unvaccinated, 17 per cent were more than 21 days after their first dose of vaccine, and ten per cent were more than 14 days after their second dose

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson came out to beg children to continue doing their twice-weekly lateral flow tests to slash infection numbers in schools.

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