On track to end lockdown on July 19, says UK health minister

'We are on track for the opening on July 19 and we will watch vigilantly, we will look at the data in particular at the start of next week,' Hancock told the BBC.

Published: 22nd June 2021 06:49 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd June 2021 06:49 PM   |  A+A-

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock arrives at Downing Street in London

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock. (Photo | AP)


LONDON: The UK is on track to lift all COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on July 19 as the data on deaths and hospitalisation from coronavirus looks 'encouraging', the UK's health minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday.

"We are on track for the opening on July 19 and we will watch vigilantly, we will look at the data in particular at the start of next week," Hancock told the BBC.

"The data over the last week or so has been encouraging, especially looking at the number of people who are dying, that is staying very, very low," he said.

His remarks follow UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicating on Monday that things were "looking good" for July 19 to be the "terminus point" for England's coronavirus restrictions, even as he warned of a "rough winter" ahead.

However, he added that the flu vaccine could be offered alongside a coronavirus booster jab in the autumn to prevent the need for further lockdowns later in the year.

The UK reported 10,633 new coronavirus cases and five more deaths, according to official daily figures released on Monday.

Hancock said the government will be monitoring the data closely next week to make an assessment related to the July timeline for easing all restrictions on gatherings and weddings.

The minister has also indicated that plans to allow quarantine-free travel for people who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are also under consideration as the country looks to ease up lockdown measures, delayed by a month amid a spike in Delta variant infections.

"When I'm in a position to be able to say something then we will do. But it's absolutely something we're working on and it's something I want to see," he told 'Sky News' when asked about allowing vaccinated people freer travel options to countries on the amber list of medium-risk coronavirus countries.

Hancock confirmed the government was "working on plans to essentially allow the vaccine to bring back some of the freedoms that have had to be restricted to keep people safe".

"After all, that's the whole purpose of the vaccination programme, that's why it's so important that every adult goes out and gets the jab," he said.

He also said that the main National Health Service (NHS) app will be "important" in the future, with countries likely to need Britons to prove their vaccination status before entering.

"Six million people have now downloaded the main NHS App and on that you can show whether you have had the jabs," Hancock said.

"It's important because we know other countries are going to say that they want proof that you have been vaccinated before you go. So, when travel opens up, we are going to make sure people have got that ability to prove it," he said.


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