PRIME Minister Boris Johnson is preparing to ditch the strict 'stay at home’ lockdown guidelines.
Reports claim England’s coronavirus restrictions will finally be relaxed next month.
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Government officials are reportedly looking to scrap the slogan: ‘Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save lives’ as the country takes its first steps out of lockdown.
As part of the Prime Minister’s highly anticipated ‘roadmap’ it is understood people will instead be encouraged to take part in more small outdoor gatherings – and even sports – from as soon as March 8.
Potentially before the end of March, outdoor leisure activities including golf and tennis will also be permitted.
Officials reportedly believe that – as well as transmission risks being low as the sports are played outside – the public may be encouraged to get fit.
In addition, students are set to return to classrooms on March 8, on what is tipped to be the first step toward the eventual easing.
Boris Johnson on Monday said he hoped the current coronavirus lockdown will be the last thanks to the "unprecedented" vaccine rollout.
Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, he praised the "astonishing efforts" of everyone involved in the delivery of jabs, after the government met its target of offering a first dose to 15 million vulnerable people two days early.
The PM promised to gradually remove restrictions in a “cautious but also irreversible” was – though admitted he can't offer "an absolute cast iron guarantee.”
Mr Johnson hailed the "unprecedented national achievement", but said that now was "no moment to relax" as the vaccine rollout moves on to the next five priority groups.
He said: “Science is now unquestionably in the ascendancy over the disease.”
The PM then added: “I don’t want people to think that I am not optimistic, there has been a big change.”
Sir Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, also spoke at the Downing Street conference, explaining that reaching the first target of the UK's vaccination programme was "definitely not mission accomplished".
Sir Simon said: “I’ve described the vaccination campaign as two sprints and a marathon – we've just come through the finishing line of the first sprint.”
He added the next phase of the UK's vaccination programme would see "pretty substantial ramp-up" in the number of jabs given.
"In this next phase, this second sprint, actually we're going to be vaccinating a larger number of people than in the first sprint.”
Boris Johnson will publish his roadmap for easing lockdown next Monday.
He is expected to chair a meeting of the Cabinet’s ‘Covid O’ committee later this week to finalise out the details.
The PM will present the blueprint in the Commons on Monday afternoon, before making a televised address from Downing Street in the evening.
It will include target dates for the earliest each of the restrictions will be lifted.
Government sources said one of Mr Johnson’s top priorities is to allow more outdoor pursuits as he wants to ‘kickstart the health of the nation’.
Last night Mr Johnson called for people to be “optimistic but also patient” about the status of lockdown.
He said: “There’s no question that as this goes on and the lockdown continues the stresses and strains are really beginning to tell on people.”
“Next week I will be setting out a roadmap saying as much as we can.
“Because we want this lockdown to be the last. We want progress to be cautious but also irreversible.”
The news came as the UK recorded another 230 coronavirus deaths and a further 9,765 Covid cases.
According to government figures, a total of 15,300,151 people have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 539,630 have had a second jab.
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