Could Boris Johnson SPEED UP lockdown roadmap? 'Excellent' data ahead of ‘positive’ announcement tonight

BORIS Johnson is set to make a "positive" announcement on the next step out lockdown this afternoon on the back of "excellent data" that shows Britain is beating the pandemic.

Health minister Nadine Dorries said the country is now "in a really good position" thanks to the vaccine rollout and ramping up of mass testing.

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She declared "it does look as though the roadmap is on course" but stressed restrictions will be eased "with caution, ensuring the data is in place".

Tonight the PM is set to hold a landmark No 10 press conference, where he will unveil 11 changes to lockdown rules.

From next Monday people will be able to hug family and friends again, and groups of up to six can meet indoors.

Pubs and restaurants are also set to open up again for customers inside, and domestic holidays will be allowed again with the ban on overnight stays away from home scrapped.

Mrs Dorries said the planned scaling back of restrictions was "massively important to everyone" and that ministers have been "really concerned about people being isolated".

And she was asked whether the positive data on numbers of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths might even mean the PM could speed up the final exit from lockdown which is slated for June 21.

She replied: "You'll have to wait until the PM makes an announcement this afternoon, but it is data and the data is looking good and we know that.

"And I hope the PM will be making a positive announcement this afternoon, I'm sure it will be, and it will be based on the data.

"What people are looking forward to is the shops opening, is hospitality opening, is having people back inside their homes again and entertaining.

"That's what we're looking forward to, that's what the nation wants, and hopefully that's all going to happen very soon."

 

Tory MPs have repeatedly called for the end of lockdown to be sped up in light of Britain's stellar vaccine rollout.

But the health minister said No 10 is still very worried about variants and wants to track what impact the latest reopening has on case numbers.

She said: "We're still very cautious. We're concerned that we don't ease restrictions too quickly and we do this in the way which is planned moving forward.

"The last thing anybody wants is to ever, ever be in a position again that we've been in over the last year.

"We are all aware that as we as we move into each step of easement there may be an increase in the variants, or there may be an increase in the virus, and our objective is to nail that virus.

There are variants of concern in the UK which is the reason why we're still on the roadmap. It's something we need to be really careful about.

"Caution is the by word. Caution must also be at the back of our minds, all the way through."

Her remarks came as a top scientist who sits on the Government's vaccine task force said Brits can look forward to a world without restrictions in future.

Asked about the latest plans to ease curbs on daily life, Sir John Bell said: "The hugging thing's great.

"I think we'll still go steady. I am feeling pretty comfortable at the moment.

"I do think we are in a very strong position to go forward now with fewer restrictions."

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