Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Covid alert level lowered from four to three ahead of May 17 lockdown easing
10 May 2021, 12:08 | Updated: 10 May 2021, 12:39
The UK's Covid-19 alert level was lowered today from four to three, meaning transmission of the virus is no longer "high" or "rising exponentially."
It comes hours ahead of Boris Johnson's upcoming announcement on the latest stage in the roadmap out of lockdown on May 17.
Under the current roadmap plans, the final stage of leaving lockdown will see all legal limits on social contact removed from June 21 and all remaining closed areas of the economy will also reopen.
In a joint statement, the UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 4 to level 3.
“Thanks to the efforts of the UK public in social distancing and the impact we are starting to see from the vaccination programme, case numbers, deaths and COVID hospital pressures have fallen consistently.
"However COVID is still circulating with people catching and spreading the virus every day so we all need to continue to be vigilant.
"This remains a major pandemic globally. “It is very important that we all continue to follow the guidance closely and everyone gets both doses of the vaccine when they are offered it.”
The alert level moves from:
Level 4: a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially
Level 3: a COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation
The development comes with Boris Johnson due to make major announcements about the easing of lockdown measures in England at 5pm today.
After declaring "this virus will not beat us" on Sunday, the PM is due to lay out the next steps this afternoon.
In key developments, indoor entertainment and attractions are to reopen, a 30-person limit will be placed on outdoor gatherings and the 'Rule of Six' will likely return for indoor gatherings, with six people or two households allowed to meet indoors.
Ministers yesterday hinted that plans due to be announced this afternoon could allow "friendly, intimate contact" - including hugs and overnight stays - from next week.
Under the roadmap plans, some of which have been brought forward slightly, the number of people allowed to gather outdoors is likely to increase to 30. Gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Indoors, the Rule of 6 or 2 households will apply.
Mr Johnson said on Sunday: "The data reflects what we already knew - we are not going to let this virus beat us.\
"The Roadmap remains on track, our successful vaccination programme continues – more than two-thirds of adults in the UK have now had the first vaccine – and we can now look forward to unlocking cautiously but irreversibly.
"It's because of the British public's unwavering commitment that we are saving lives, protecting the NHS and controlling the virus."
More than 35 million people have now a had a first dose of a Covid vaccine, while more than 17 million have received their second jab.
Downing Street said that infections are at their lowest level since September, with hospital admissions similar to July, after months of lockdown.
What will be allowed after 17 May?
- Indoor entertainment and attractions reopen
- 30-person limit outdoors
- 'Rule of Six' or two households indoors
- Organised indoor adult sport
- Overnight stays between households
- Remaining outdoor entertainment including performances
- Remaining accommodation
- International travel to Green and Amber list countries