United Kingdom

Leaked Step 4 Whitehall document hints at 'the new normal' after July 19

A leaked document gave a glimpse of the UK's potential 'new normal' today with facemasks, working from home and travel quarantine rules set to stay beyond July 19.

The Whitehall paper suggests that the government will stop short of urging workers to return to offices even after 'Freedom Day' finally arrives. 

There is also a suggestion that face masks will be needed in some settings long-term, as well as keeping post-travel isolation rules. 

Anyone who has coronavirus symptoms will still be expected to isolate, according to the draft proposals. And fears have been raised that more restrictions will be needed if the disease surges again in the winter. 

The document - seen by Politico - emerged as furious Tories predicted up to 70 MPs could inflict a bloody nose on Boris Johnson in a crunch lockdown vote tonight.

The PM is facing a bruising revolt from his own benches as the Commons is asked to approve the delay of 'Freedom Day' until July 19.

Victory is guaranteed for the government as Labour has thrown its backing behind the extension of the brutal restrictions.

The shift from Mr Johnson, amid warnings from scientists that the Indian variant will cause thousands more deaths, has incensed many Conservatives who argue that vaccines have protected the most vulnerable and the country must learn to live with the virus.

Boris Johnson (pictured yesterday) is facing a bruising revolt from his own benches as the Commons is asked to approve the delay of 'Freedom Day' until July 19

Daily UK figures show 7,673 people tested positive for the virus, 184 patients were admitted to hospital and 10 people died. The data also shows that 41.8million people have been given their first dose of a vaccine, while 30.2million have received their second

Over-21s urged to get vaccine appointments 

England's Covid vaccination drive has opened to everyone over the age of 21 today, as ministers race to get every adult jabbed by the country's new 'Freedom Day' on July 19.

Around one million people aged 21 and 22 will begin to be invited to come forward for their vaccine from this morning, leaving only 18 to 20-year-olds waiting for the call. NHS bosses expect to open up the scheme to all adults by the end of this week 

Boris Johnson this week delayed the final step of the roadmap back to normality by four weeks to give the NHS a 'few more crucial weeks' to protect Britons from the rapid spread of the Indian variant. 

The Government brought forward its target for vaccinating all adults from July 31 to July 19 to deal with the rapidly growing Delta strain variant and to hit the jab target in time for the country unlocking. No10 has also pledged to get two-thirds of adults fully inoculated by the same date.

But there are fears a shortage in supply of vaccines could threaten a further delay to the final unlocking. Although No10 hasn't made achieving the goal a clause of going ahead with the final unlocking, Freedom Day was only ever delayed to ensure millions more adults were fully protected. 

Ministers have conceded that the supply of the Pfizer jab is 'tight' while the Moderna vaccine — which has only just become available — is thought to be similarly limited. Both are shipped in weekly batches from factories in Europe. 

The Cabinet Office insisted no decisions have been taken on the guidance after July 19, which Mr Johnson has vowed will represent a 'terminus' point for lockdown.

The premier said on Monday that the delay would save 'thousands of lives' and allow millions more people to receive their first and second jabs.

But he insisted he is 'confident' he would finally be able to end restrictions on July 19, describing it as a 'terminus point' – while refusing to give a categorical guarantee.

Jacob Rees-Mogg hinted at a growing split in Cabinet yesterday by suggesting it was wrong to keep restrictions in place once all vulnerable people and over-50s had been offered their second jabs – a point which has already passed.

He said people below that age were 'not at particular risk', adding: 'Overwhelmingly the most important thing is the number of deaths. People going into hospital for a couple of days and coming out is not very important.'

In an interview with the Conservative Home website, he added: 'Ultimately, the NHS is there to serve the British people, not the British people there to serve the NHS, and therefore we may need to spend more money on hospitals but you can't run society just to stop the hospitals being full, otherwise you'd never let us get in our cars and drive anywhere or do any of the other things that people want to do, so there has to be some proportionality.'

The interview was recorded on Monday, shortly before Mr Johnson confirmed the four-week delay. 

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss declined to contradict Mr Rees-Mogg during a round of interviews this morning.  

'We are taking a pragmatic approach. The key is making sure that everybody gets vaccinated – by July 19 we will have all over-40s vaccinated so we are protected as a society,' she said.

'That's what we need to do in order to be able to fully open up the economy.'

She added: 'Jacob has his views and those are his views. But what I'm telling you is the reason we are doing this, the reason we are taking these measures is to protect lives and that's what's important.' 

A poll by Savanta ComRes yesterday found that 56 per cent of the public now fear restrictions could go on indefinitely.

It came as ten more deaths and 7,673 new Covid cases were reported yesterday.

They include checking the vaccine rollout is still on track and having evidence the jabs are effective at reducing hospitalisations and deaths.

Jabs for care home staff WILL be compulsory 

Care home staff will be forced to have Covid vaccinations, ministers will announce this week.

The controversial measure means 1.5million people working in social care will be told to have the jab within 16 weeks – or face losing their jobs.

It has been introduced following a consultation which concluded it would help protect the most vulnerable in society.

No decision has yet been made on whether vaccination should be made mandatory for the 1.4million who work for the NHS. A separate consultation on that is to be launched.

Ministers are concerned about low take-up of the coronavirus vaccine among care workers, who include care home staff plus home helps.

Despite care workers being among one of the top priority groups for Covid jabs, latest figures show that just two thirds of them have had both doses of the vaccine.

Tens of thousands of care home residents died in the pandemic, largely as a result of infections being brought in by staff during the first wave.

The Daily Mail first revealed in March that the Government was considering making it a legal requirement for NHS and care home staff to have the jab.

Organisations representing care firms and their staff have warned that the move could backfire and see workers quit rather than agree to have the jab.

The social care sector already faces a workforce shortage as a result of years of underfunding, and an exodus of staff would make it harder to meet the expected upsurge in demand once the pandemic subsides.

The move also raises questions about how care homes treat staff who refuse a mandatory jab, and whether they have to be moved into other roles, and over whether the Government could face a legal challenge.

Later this week ministers will confirm that they are pushing ahead with compulsory vaccination for most of the 1.5million working in social care in England.

On Tuesday night it was claimed that, under the plans, those working with adults will have 16 weeks to get vaccinated or face losing their jobs.

The Government is also keen to make it mandatory for the 1.38million who are directly employed by the NHS in England to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and winter flu.

The Department of Health and Social Care will in the coming days launch two separate consultation exercises into making Covid and flu jabs mandatory for NHS staff.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock believes the arguments in favour of protecting patients from potentially infectious staff now outweigh those that allow health workers the right to choose whether to have either immunisation.

Latest figures show that, as of June 6, 89 per cent of NHS staff had had their first dose of Covid vaccine and 82 per cent had had both.

Some 83.7 per cent of staff in adult care homes had received at least one dose by June 6 and 68.7 per cent had been double-jabbed.

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, warned that while it wants all NHS staff to get jabbed, 'compulsion is a blunt instrument that carries its own risks'.

The health department said: 'Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and have already saved thousands of lives – with millions of health and care staff vaccinated.

'Our priority is to make sure people in care homes are protected. We will publish our response [to the consultation] in due course.'

The other two tests require proof that unlocking will not risk a surge in cases that could overwhelm the NHS and checking that new 'variants of concern' do not fundamentally change the risks of the virus.

Asked whether the Cabinet minister's views reflected the Government's position, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: 'The position we are using is the four tests. We do not meet those four tests and that is why we are not proceeding with the next stage.'

However, many critics fear cases and hospitalisations could well be even higher in four weeks' time – leading to another delay.

Michael Gove yesterday insisted the reopening would only slip again if something 'unprecedented and remarkable' occurs. He said: 'We have to accept this virus will circulate, and it will be the case... that in winters to come we will find that people contract it or subsequent variants and they will fall ill.'

England's Covid vaccination drive has opened to everyone over the age of 21 today, as ministers race to get every adult jabbed by the country's new 'Freedom Day' on July 19.

Around one million people aged 21 and 22 will begin to be invited to come forward for their vaccine from this morning, leaving only 18 to 20-year-olds waiting for the call. NHS bosses expect to open up the scheme to all adults by the end of this week 

Boris Johnson this week delayed the final step of the roadmap back to normality by four weeks to give the NHS a 'few more crucial weeks' to protect Britons from the rapid spread of the Indian variant. 

The Government brought forward its target for vaccinating all adults from July 31 to July 19 to deal with the rapidly growing Delta strain variant and to hit the jab target in time for the country unlocking. No10 has also pledged to get two-thirds of adults fully inoculated by the same date.

But there are fears a shortage in supply of vaccines could threaten a further delay to the final unlocking. Although No10 hasn't made achieving the goal a clause of going ahead with the final unlocking, Freedom Day was only ever delayed to ensure millions more adults were fully protected. 

Ministers have conceded that the supply of the Pfizer jab is 'tight' while the Moderna vaccine — which has only just become available — is thought to be similarly limited. Both are shipped in weekly batches from factories in Europe.

Ministers are expected to confirm this week that care home staff will be forced to have Covid vaccinations.

The controversial measure means 1.5million people working in social care will be told to have the jab within 16 weeks – or face losing their jobs.

It has been introduced following a consultation which concluded it would help protect the most vulnerable in society.

No decision has yet been made on whether vaccination should be made mandatory for the 1.4million who work for the NHS. A separate consultation on that is to be launched.

Ministers are concerned about low take-up of the coronavirus vaccine among care workers, who include care home staff plus home helps.

Despite care workers being among one of the top priority groups for Covid jabs, latest figures show that just two thirds of them have had both doses of the vaccine.

Tens of thousands of care home residents died in the pandemic, largely as a result of infections being brought in by staff during the first wave.

The Daily Mail first revealed in March that the Government was considering making it a legal requirement for NHS and care home staff to have the jab.

Organisations representing care firms and their staff have warned that the move could backfire and see workers quit rather than agree to have the jab.

The social care sector already faces a workforce shortage as a result of years of underfunding, and an exodus of staff would make it harder to meet the expected upsurge in demand once the pandemic subsides.

The move also raises questions about how care homes treat staff who refuse a mandatory jab, and whether they have to be moved into other roles, and over whether the Government could face a legal challenge.

Later this week ministers will confirm that they are pushing ahead with compulsory vaccination for most of the 1.5million working in social care in England.

On Tuesday night it was claimed that, under the plans, those working with adults will have 16 weeks to get vaccinated or face losing their jobs.

The Government is also keen to make it mandatory for the 1.38million who are directly employed by the NHS in England to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and winter flu.

The Department of Health and Social Care will in the coming days launch two separate consultation exercises into making Covid and flu jabs mandatory for NHS staff.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock believes the arguments in favour of protecting patients from potentially infectious staff now outweigh those that allow health workers the right to choose whether to have either immunisation.

Latest figures show that, as of June 6, 89 per cent of NHS staff had had their first dose of Covid vaccine and 82 per cent had had both.

Some 83.7 per cent of staff in adult care homes had received at least one dose by June 6 and 68.7 per cent had been double-jabbed.

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, warned that while it wants all NHS staff to get jabbed, 'compulsion is a blunt instrument that carries its own risks'.

The health department said: 'Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and have already saved thousands of lives – with millions of health and care staff vaccinated.

'Our priority is to make sure people in care homes are protected. We will publish our response [to the consultation] in due course.'

Covid has killed more than 150,000 people since the crisis began last spring, but the vaccines have shown to be extremely effective at preventing deaths - reducing fatalities by more than 90%.  Independent scientists seeking to manage expectations before restrictions are lifted told MailOnline that achieving zero Covid deaths going forward was 'impossible' and that the focus should be to bring them down to levels comparable with flu — which kills roughly 17,000 people in England annually (shown on graph). Source: Office for National Statistics and Public Health England

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