Boris Johnson: July 19 a 'terminus point' for England's lockdown restrictions

21 June 2021, 11:59 | Updated: 21 June 2021, 12:31

  • Boris Johnson said he views July 19 as a "terminus point" for England's Covid restrictions
  • His comments came on what was pencilled in as "Freedom Day" - now delayed to next month
  • He said he cannot rule out problems in the winter but stressed he wants the relaxation of restrictions to be "irreversible"
Boris Johnson says June 19 looks like a "terminus point" for restrictions
Boris Johnson says June 19 looks like a "terminus point" for restrictions. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson has said July 19 is set to be a "terminus point" for England's lockdown rules.

The new "Freedom Day", which should see legal limits on social distancing lifted, has been pushed back from today to that date next month.

The Government implemented the delay to vaccinate more people amid concerns about the fast-spreading Delta variant.

"What we're doing, the single most important thing for the economy and indeed paying for the recovery, is to ensure that we continue cautiously but irreversibly to unlock and get our economy moving again, that is the priority of the government," the PM said on Monday.

"And we're working very hard on that, at the moment it still looks to me as though July 19 is a terminus point."

Read more: June 21: Which restrictions have eased in England today?

Read more: Freedom Day: Tory MP says country 'should have unlocked on June 21'

Some minor relaxations did still take place on what was meant to be Freedom Day - weddings and funeral commemorations are no longer capped but will instead be limited to the size of a venue.

Mr Johnson has repeated the "cautious but irreversible" mantra to reflect his desire to avoid going back into lockdowns after relaxing measures, as happened before.

There have been warnings from scientists that winter could pose a health problem, with a wave of flu potentially being a bigger threat.

Asked if health measures might return in the colder months, Mr Johnson said: "You can never exclude that there will be some new disease, some new horror that we simply haven't budgeted for or accounted for.

Read more: Analysis: 'Freedom Day' delay was 'inevitable' - but who is to blame?

"But looking at where we are, looking at the efficacy of the vaccines against all variants that we can currently see… I think it's looking good for July 19 to be that terminus point.

"I think what the scientists are saying is that things like flu will come back this winter, we may have a rough winter for all sorts of reasons, and obviously there are big pressures on the NHS.

"All the more reason to reduce the number of Covid cases now, give the NHS the breathing space it needs to get on with dealing with all these other pressures, and we're certainly going to be putting in the investment to make sure that they can."

His comments follow Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng's prediction that the full unlocking from England's lockdown will go ahead next month.

"I think we will be able to get there on July 19," he told LBC's Nick Ferrari.

"We looked at the data, we thought we need to get a bit more time to get more information, and also to make sure more people had got their vaccines.

"I'm an optimist by nature - I think we'll be able to get there on July 19 and fully reopen."