Boris Johnson declares next Covid roadmap phase is ON and there is ‘nothing in the data’ to halt easing lockdown

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BRING IT ON

Live Blog

27 Mar 2021, 23:52Updated: 27 Mar 2021, 23:52

BORIS Johnson today declared the next phase in the Covid roadmap is on track.

He said there is "nothing in the data" that suggests the easing of lockdown restrictions should halt.

The PM acknowledged cases could again spiral as restrictions are relaxed, with the "stay local" order having ended in Wales and larger outdoor meetings being permitted in England from Monday.

But he said on Saturday that the "key difference" this time is that the rise in prevalence should be "sufficiently mitigated" by the successful vaccine rollout.

However, there were warnings that more must be done to prevent the import of new variants from overseas as vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi raised the prospect of booster shots beginning in September.

During a discussion at the Conservatives' virtual spring forum, the Prime Minister said that a "third wave" is being witnessed in parts of Europe and "bitter experience" has taught him that this could hit the UK "three weeks later".

"The question is - is it going to be, this time, as bad it has been in the past? Or have we sufficiently mitigated, muffled, blunted the impact by the vaccine rollout?" he added.

It comes as the number of Covid deaths in the UK passes 150,000, according to the latest figures.

And it follows a day of anti-lockdown protesters clashing with cops across the country, with demonstrations "turning ugly".

Thirteen protesters were arrested as they tried to storm a vaccination centre in Bradford, and nine cops were injured in wild clashes today.

Follow our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic...

MODERN VACCINE ROLL-OUT COMING

The Moderna vaccine will be rolled out in the UK for the first time in just weeks, as lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

The US jab will be used as the Covid vaccine programme is expanded to under-50s, the Mail on Sunday reported.

Doctors will reportedly begin using the Moderna vaccine in just three weeks.

More than 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be added to millions of Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs that will be administered in the UK.

CHURCH SALUTE

Boris Johnson has thanked church leaders for stepping up to support their communities in the pandemic.

The PM praised the “selfless stoicism” of congregations banned from group worship but who still helped others.

He said: “I’ve lost count of the number of church leaders and congregations from all denominations that have stepped up to support one another and the community.”

Religious groups have been confined to virtual worship owing to Covid restrictions.

Mr Johnson added in his Easter message: “Over the past year the teachings of Jesus Christ were brought to life.”

ANNUAL LEAVE RUSH

Brits are rushing to book Monday off work as lockdown restrictions ease and the sun is forecast to shine.

Holiday requests up 27 per cent year-on-year, consultants Bright HR said.

DIY BOOST

DIY enthusiasts are embarking on major home improvements as millions of Brits invite friends and family to their homes from Monday.

Seven million people have checked out the Homebase specialist 'how to' guides in the past year as they embark on domestic renovation projects - double the previous twelve months.

Making pallet furniture has proved the most popular as the rule of six or two households are able to mix as restrictions ease.

Sales of the pod chairs rose by 243 per cent in the past year and sales of the Andorra rocking chair has increased by nearly eight times.

MEAT-UP MONDAY

The nation is gearing up for a £1billion barbecue bonanza from Monday.

Sales of barbecues, barbie food, picnic bites and booze are booming as millions prepare to take advantage of unlocking to meet family and friends.

Back gardens and parks across England are expected to be bustling for the first time in 83 days.

Supermarkets have stocked up and expect to shift 60million sausages, 20million burgers and 126million cans of beer.

It is expected to provide a £1billion boost to the economy as more people go out.

I'LL BE FIRST IN THE QUEUE FOR A PINT, SAYS BORIS

Boris Johnson vowed that lockdown would be lifted on time.

The PM confirmed his plan was running to schedule — and he would be first in the queue when the pubs reopened in two weeks. 

He said: “I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love.

"In just a few days’ time, I’m finally going to be able to go to the barber’s.

“But, more important than that, I’m going to be able to go down the street and cautiously, but irreversibly, I’m going to drink a pint of beer in the pub.”

PROTESTERS REJECT 'CORONA PASSPORTS'

Hundreds gathered in central Copenhagen on Saturday to protest against a controversial virus law and Denmark's plan to create so called "corona passports".

Marching through the streets, the crowd of mostly younger people, lit fireworks during a march which an AFP correspondent at the scene described as mostly peaceful.

Police told the Ekstrabladet newspaper that some 600 people had gathered and one person was arrested for throwing firecrackers towards officers.

Organised by Danish anti-restriction group "Men in Black," the main issue for the protesters was a new provision to the penal code that calls for a doubled sentence for a crime that "has a background in or is connected to the Covid-19 epidemic".

In addition, the protesters also object to the creation of "corona passports" -- a smartphone app which will be used to certify that someone has received a Covid-19 vaccine, tested negative within the last 72 hours or has recently recovered from Covid-19, conferring immunity to the disease.

EARTH HOUR

Cities around the world were turning off their lights Saturday for Earth Hour, with this year's event highlighting the link between the destruction of nature and increasing outbreaks of diseases like Covid-19.

In London, the Houses of Parliament, London Eye ferris wheel, Shard skyscraper and neon signs of Piccadilly Circus were among the landmarks flicking the switches.

"It's fantastic news that parliament once again is taking part in Earth Hour, joining landmarks across the country and the world to raise awareness of climate change," said Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons.

"It shows our commitment to improving sustainability... and that we're playing our part in reducing energy consumption," he said.

BRAZIL CASES SOAR

Brazil recorded 85,948 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 3,438 deaths from Covid-19, the Health Ministry said today.

It is the second day in a row fatalities have exceeded 3,000.

Brazil has registered nearly 12.5 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 310,550, according to ministry data.

CONTINUED

The woman — who is separated from her husband — is a pal of Peter’s sister Zara Phillips from their days at private school Gordonstoun in Moray, Scotland.

She attended 39-year-old Zara’s wedding to rugby star Mike Tindall in 2011.

Dad-of-two Peter announced his split from Canadian wife Autumn, 41, in February of last year.

He was spotted outside the married woman’s house and his Range Rover was still parked at her home yesterday.

One local source said: “It seems wrong he has travelled here from England, whatever the circumstances. Scotland is closed and if you flew here you would have to quarantine for ten days.”

COPS QUIZ QUEEN'S GRANDSON OVER COVID 'BREACH'

Cops quizzed the Queen’s grandson Peter Phillips after a complaint that he had driven to Scotland to see a married woman.

Police, who were called by angry locals, “issued advice” to Phillips, 43, who lives 460 miles away in Gloucestershire.

He insisted the trip was for work and cops said no Covid lockdown rules had been broken.

Phillips, who lives at his mum Princess Anne’s Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire, turned up in the village of St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire.

Police called on him and the 40-year-old mum of two at her £475,000 home.

THE UK'S ROADMAP OUT OF LOCKDOWN

Lockdown restrictions are set to ease from Monday, with the return of the rule of six and outdoor gatherings.

Further changes will happen on April 12. This is what Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown looks like.

BIGGEST EVENT IN EUROPE SINCE PANDEMIC BEGAN

Thousands of music fans tonight crammed into a Barcelona rock concert after passing a same-day Covid test.

The 5,000-strong gig was backed by authorities and is believed to be the biggest event in Europe since the start of the pandemic.

The sell-out event was held in Barcelona's Palau Sant Jordi and was given special permission by Spain's health authorities who wanted to test the prevention of Covid outbreaks at mass events.

Concertgoers came to watch the band Love of Lesbian and were able to mix freely in the arena - although face masks were mandatory.

It comes as restrictions remain in place across Spain, with gatherings limited to no more than four people in closed spaces.

FRAUD ON THE RISE

Investment fraud reports in the UK have shot up by a third as criminals exploit the pandemic, UKFinance reports.

Losses from scams which target the changing lifestyles of Brits rose 42 per cent to £135.1m last year.

BETTER MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT COMING

The UK government is investing £500million in mental health services.

This will expand NHS talking therapies to an additional 1.6million people.

Boris Johnson said today: "We recognise the impact this pandemic has had on wellbeing and are dedicated to providing better mental health support for those in need."

PATIENTS IN INTENSIVE CARE RISING IN FRANCE

The number of patients with coronavirus in French intensive care units rose on Saturday to a new high for this year, increasing the pressure to impose new restrictions that President Emmanuel Macron says will probably be needed.

France had 4,791 ICU patients being treated for Covid-19, up from 4,766 on Friday, health ministry data showed.

The numbers are approaching a peak recorded in mid-November during the second wave of the virus, although last spring, when France imposed its first lockdown, saw a peak of more than 7,000.

Doctors say intensive care units in the worst-hit regions could become overwhelmed.

BRITS PREP FOR LOCKDOWN LIFTING

Brits are relishing the prospect of a pint and a haircut as Prime Minister Boris Johnson vows to stick to his plan to unwind anti-Covid measures.

Johnson said his government's successful mass vaccination drive and pro-business policies would hasten economic recovery, "jab by jab, job by job".

"In just a few days' time, I'm finally going to be able to go to the barbers," the mop-haired PM added.

From Monday, England's stay-at-home order will be relaxed allowing groups of up to six people to meet outside.

The government plans to allow outdoors drinking in pub gardens, and non-essential retail such as hairdressers, from April 12.

FRANCE TIGHTENS RESTRICTIONS

France has tightened restrictions as coronavirus cases surge in Europe.

The country admitted the situation is "critical" and added three more departments to the 16 already under tight restrictions.

Twenty million people in France, including the greater Paris region, are classed as living in high-infection zones.

They are not allowed to travel further than 10 kilometres (six miles) from home without an essential reason.

Daily cases in France have nearly doubled since the start of the month and there have been more than 200,000 new cases every week - but that did not stop a crowd turning out for a protest concert outside Saturday evening in central Paris.

UK PASSES 150,000 COVID DEATHS MILESTONE, DATA SHOWS

More than 150,000 deaths involving coronavirus have now occurred in the UK, latest figures show.

The total is based on the most up-to-date statistics for people who had Covid-19 recorded on their death certificate, plus deaths known to have occurred more recently.

It is a more comprehensive measure of Covid-19 deaths than the figures published daily by the Government, which include only those who died within 28 days of testing positive, and which currently stands at 126,573.

By contrast, the wider death toll stands at 150,011, according to analysis by PA news agency.

The new total of 150,011 deaths involving Covid-19 is made up of 149,207 UK deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, plus a further 804 that are known to have occurred since the latest registration data was published.

'NOTHING IN DATA TO HALT LOCKDOWN EASING', SAYS BORIS

Boris Johnson has said he is wary of the prospect of rising coronavirus infection rates but sees "absolutely nothing in the data" to halt the easing of the lockdown.

The Prime Minister acknowledged cases could again spiral as restrictions are relaxed, with the "stay local" order having ended in Wales and larger outdoor meetings being permitted in England from Monday.

But he said on Saturday that the "key difference" this time is that the rise in prevalence should be "sufficiently mitigated" by the successful vaccine rollout.

ROUTE TO RECOVERY THROUGH PILOT CONCERT

Music fans in Barcelona had rapid Covid-19 tests ahead of attending a rock concert on Saturday in a trial that, if successful, could provide a route to recovery for the ravaged live music industry in Spain and beyond.

Some 5,000 people will attend the sold-out concert for Spanish indie band Love of Lesbian, and will not be required to observe social distancing. Attendees will have to wear face masks throughout the concert in the Palau Sant Jordi arena.

"(This concert) is about the excitement of going out, consuming culture, and dancing in a more or less safe environment," said Sebastian, 47, a teacher getting tested ahead of the concert.

"We're going to dance and have a great time."

The pilot concert, which has been approved by health authorities, will serve as a test for whether similar events will be able to start up again.

CONTINUED

He added: "Given these customers have already loaned their money to holiday companies for a year, they cannot again be given the run-around on refunds.

"Anyone with a RCN that is due to expire should speak to their travel provider to exchange it for a cash refund. Some customers may be happy for the expiry date on their RCN to be extended, but holiday companies cannot assume this without giving travellers the option of a refund first."

He told the Daily Mirror: "When thousands of holidays were cancelled last Spring, many people were given no option but to accept a refund credit note, on the assurance that these could eventually be exchanged for cash or used on a future holiday.

“But a year has nearly passed, and most of those with notes that are due to expire will likely now just want their money back."

HOLS PAYBACK

Brits who were given credit notes for their cancelled holidays have been urged to check the expiry dates - as thousands approach the 12-month cut off date.

Many airlines and travel agents who dished out vouchers for cancelled flights have failed to warn customers that they could be approaching the deadline.

And as travel restrictions in Britain continue, thousands will expire before Boris Johnson reopens Britain's borders.

Rory Boland, consumer expert at Which? Travel, urged holidaymakers to check the small print.

RALLY RAGE IN BRADFORD

Thirteen protesters have been arrested as anti-lockdown demonstrators clashed with cops while they tried to storm a vaccination centre today.

Demonstrations "turned ugly" as up to 400 Covid protesters faced off with cops at Centenary Square in Bradford on Saturday afternoon.

The group - believed to be called The North Unites - listened to an anti-lockdown speech between City Hall and Bradford Magistrates Court. They then moved to Centenary Square.

West Yorkshire Police said 13 people had been arrested after they tried to get into a vaccination clinic.

Nineteen people were also given fines for breaking Covid rules.

WILL I NEED A VACCINE TO GO TO THE PUB?

Pubs may be allowed to ban drinkers who have not had a Covid vaccination.

Punters may have to show proof of a jab or a recent negative test to get a pint.

But there is no rule yet in place - and it is believed any vaccine requirement would be at the discretion of individual landlords.

Boris Johnson has previously dismissed the idea of a vaccine passport being needed to nip into a boozer.

But speaking to a committee of MPs this week he indicated the decision will be handed to individual businesses.

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