Health secretary confirms step four easing

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

State announcement: step four of the Government's roadmap will take place from Monday 19 July, the Government has confirmed (image: Getty/Luis Davilla)
State announcement: step four of the Government's roadmap will take place from Monday 19 July, the Government has confirmed (image: Getty/Luis Davilla)

Related tags Legislation Government Health and safety Late night operator

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid has confirmed the country will move to step four of the Government’s roadmap next Monday (19 July).

Ahead of an expected announcement from the Prime Minister later today (Monday 12 July), Javid made a statement in the House of Commons.

He also predicted how case numbers will get worse before they get better, potentially reaching 100,000 cases a day later in the summer but added that hospitalisations are far lower than at this point in the previous wave.

The health secretary went on to outline how on the basis of evidence, the Government does not believe infection rates will be “unsustainable pressure on the NHS”.

He said: “We have looked closely at the data, against the four tests. We firmly believe this is the right time to get our nation closer to normal life so we will move to the next stage of our roadmap on 19 July.

The virus cannot be eradicated, Javid also stated but by moving forward next week, supported by the arrival of summer and the school holidays, gives the country the best possible chance of a return to normal life, he added.

Plan expected

Step four of the Government's roadmap says:

Social contact

By Step 4 which will take place no earlier than 21 June, the government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.

Business, activities and events

We hope to reopen remaining premises, including nightclubs, and ease the restrictions on large events and performances that apply in step three.

This will be subject to the results of a scientific Events Research Programme to test the outcome of certain pilot events through the spring and summer, where we will trial the use of testing and other techniques to cut the risk of infection. The same Events Research Programme will guide decisions on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other life events.

As we move through each of these phases in the roadmap, we must all remember that Covid-19 remains a part of our lives. We are going to have to keep living our lives differently to keep ourselves and others safe.

We must carry on with ‘hands, face, space’. Comply with the Covid-secure measures that remain in place. Meet outdoors when we can and keep letting fresh air in.

Get tested when needed. Get vaccinated when offered. If we all continue to play our part, we will be that bit closer to a future that is more familiar.

“We delayed step four weeks so we could build our vaccine wall even higher. We believe this wall means we can withstand a summer wave and while the wall would be higher still in winter, we know the wave would be much more dangerous,” Javid said.

He also stated the Government was publishing a plan, showing the approach it will be taking throughout the summer including details of how businesses will be encouraged to use Covid-status certification in high-risk settings to limit the risk of infection alongside guidance for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and details of a review it will be conducting in September to prepare for autumn and winter.

The minister added: “The 19 July will mark another step forward in our road to recovery. Getting here has been hard fought and long awaited but this battle isn’t over yet.

“Let’s move forward in a confident but measured way so we can get closer to normal life and protect the progress we’ve all made.”

The confirmation of restrictions easing next week will mean nightclubs can reopen for the first time since March 2020.

Correct decision made

Night Time Industries Association boss Michael Kill said: “The decision to go ahead with reopening on 19 of July is the correct one.

“After 16 months of crippling restrictions, businesses in the night-time economy are ready to play our part in the safe reopening of society. Today should mark the beginning of nightlife’s long journey to rebuild itself.

“There are some important hurdles ahead for our sector, including changes to the isolation rules which have the potential to throw the recovery off course, but for those businesses that have made it this far in the pandemic, I feel confident that the sense of community and togetherness the sector has shown to this point will help us overcome these challenges.”

Kill said he looked forward to the Government providing more guidance for businesses owners, which should be practical and easy to navigate.

He also highlighted the health secretary’s comments regarding ‘vaccine passports’ and the impact it will have on late-night operators.

Kill added: “But from today's statement we can say that the Government are right not to mandate the use of Covid status certification systems. Much of the night-time economy relies on spontaneous consumers, and by permitting businesses to opt out, the Government have allowed for this trade to continue.”

“Representing a sector that has shown such resilience in the face of adversity has been humbling for me personally – and I think now we can say, with more confidence than at any point previously during the pandemic, that better days lie ahead.”

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