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World PM says we're through the worst of COVID-19, but warns: 'Let's not blow it now, folks'

13:55  03 july  2020
13:55  03 july  2020 Source:   news.sky.com

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Boris Johnson has said the UK is "very much through the worst" of the coronavirus pandemic, but warned: "Let's not blow it now, folks."

Boris Johnson wearing a suit and tie: Boris Johnson has urged people to 'enjoy summer sensibly' © Imagebridge Boris Johnson has urged people to 'enjoy summer sensibly'

Speaking ahead of a significant easing of the COVID-19 lockdown coming into effect in England tomorrow, Boris Johnson urged Britons to "enjoy summer sensibly".

Pubs, bars and restaurants will be able to welcome customers for the first time in more than three months.

Hairdressers and barbers will also reopen, as will hotels, leisure facilities and tourist attractions.

The move represents the largest relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions since the lockdown was introduced in March.

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The PM told LBC: "Tomorrow we come to step three of the plan that I set out on 10 May, that everybody, I think, has understood, or huge numbers of people have understood and followed very carefully and very closely.

"And it's because people stuck to that plan that we're now able to carefully and cautiously open up hospitality tomorrow.

"And my message is really for people to enjoy summer sensibly and make sure that it all works."

Amid worries that large numbers of people could head out as they are off work, Mr Johnson said reopening pubs on a Monday rather than a Saturday would have made "no difference".

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The PM said 4 July was picked "based on a clear understanding of the statistical risks that we now face as a country".

"We've progressed thanks to the efforts of the British people from an incidence of the disease at about one in 400 a few weeks ago to maybe one in 2,200 today," he said.

"You're appreciably less likely now to be in close proximity to someone who has it than you were even a couple of weeks ago.

"We're making progress, we aimed for 4 July, we wanted to set ourselves a target, we think we're in good shape but my message is let's not blow it."

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The PM said indoor gyms would be able to reopen in a "couple of weeks" and promised to try to get theatres going "as fast as we possibly can".

The two-metre social distancing rule will also be reduced from Saturday.

People will be required to keep one metre apart from others, while also taking measures to mitigate the risk of transmitting the virus.

This includes wearing a face mask on public transport, regular handwashing, being outside and limiting time spent with others.

Mr Johnson urged people to wear face coverings when in confined spaces with people they do not normally see, and said he had one with a Florence Nightingale pattern.

The PM will appear at a Downing Street news conference later on Friday ahead of the easing of the restrictions.

Opponents of the government's approach have expressed fears of a second wave of infections and fear the easing has come too soon.

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According to the Department of Health, a total of 43,995 people have died in the UK after testing positive for the virus.

This is the third highest total in the world, behind only the US and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University.

However, ministers have argued throughout the pandemic that international comparisons are not useful due to differences in how deaths are recorded.

The PM admitted there have been "far too many lives lost in care homes" and that the government would "go over and look at" whether entering lockdown earlier lockdown could have prevented some deaths.

But he disputed claims that people were moved into care homes from the NHS to make space in hospitals.

The number of people going into care homes fell by 40% from January to March, Mr Johnson said.

He continued: "What we certainly wanted to do to was to ensure we had the space in the NHS, that's absolutely right, but what I'm told is every decision to move people out of the beds in the NHS was taken on a clinical basis and not in any way intended to endanger the care homes.

"Whether an earlier lockdown would have made the crucial difference is something that really we will have to go over and look at."

:: Easing the Lockdown: Ask Sky News

This afternoon at 4pm Sky News will host an hour-long programme, presented by Jayne Secker, taking questions from Sky News consumers.

There will be a panel of experts in science, medicine and business, plus contributions from Sky correspondents.

If you have a question you would like to put to the panel, please email it to news@sky.com, along with your name

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