When Boris Johnson will make his big announcement and what delaying Covid 'freedom day' means for Northamptonshire

County's vaccination chief says the PM is right to be cautious after rise in cases

By Kevin Nicholls
Monday, 14th June 2021, 11:02 am

The mean leading Northamptonshire's vaccine rollout admits he sick to the back teeth of Covid-19 restrictions.

But he admits Boris Johnson would right to be cautious if, as expected, he confirms 'freedom day' is on hold for another month. .

The Prime Minister is set to make his big announcement over the June 21 target date at a 6pm Downing Street news conference later today.

Next Monday's lifting of social distancing guidence rests on today's announcement

According to Sky News, he will plead with the nation to make "one last heave" to freedom with a four-week delay in lifting lockdown restrictions in England.

"It is one last heave," a senior source was quoted as saying after the PM met senior cabinet ministers and his scientific advisers.

"It is a straight race between the vaccine and the virus."

Mr Johnson will blame the delay on a third wave of Covid-19 infections and say it will allow millions more people to be vaccinated and more to receive a second jab by the new date of July 19.

PM Boris Johnson

Chris Pallot, director of the Northamptonshire vacination programme admitted: "My personal view is that I, like everyone else, am absulotely sick to the back teeth of restrictions, But we need to be cautious.

"I genuinely don't have a view because I've not seen the data on whether June 21st is realistic.

"But I would say personally, and from all of my colleagues in the health service, that we have been working our fingers to the bone since this disease hit us to keep people safe, make people well again and try and stop us going back itno the dark days that we've had behind us.

"So my personal perspective is: come forward, have your jab, protect yourself, contintue to wear your mask ,and continue to keep distance from people. Because only then will we really know whether the releasing of restrictions is a realistic prospect for us."

Covid-19 case numbers in Northamptonshire are the highest for two months

Continued success of the vaccination rollout was one of the four key tests Mr Johnson said needed to be met for each stage of the roadmap to go ahead.

More than 460,000 people in Northamptonshire have now had at least one vaccination dose — a fraction more than 70 per cent of the adult population.

And 330,000 — just over half of all over--16s — have received both doses.

But another of Mr Johnson's four key tests was infection rates staying low, reducing the risk of a surge in hospitalisations.

Latest data shows just one Covid-19 patient in Northamptonshire's two acute hospitals compared to a peak of 422 on January 13.

Yet the weekly number of new positive tests in the county is now nearly back to where it was two months ago, fuelled by a rise in the number cases of the Delta variant first identified in India.

That rise mirrors what is happening across the UK and scientists warn that it continuing unchecked could lead to more hospital cases among those who have not yet been vaccinated, putting the NHS under pressure again.

The delay, set to be confirmed will mean:

■ Pubs remain restricted to table service, despite Euro 2020 getting under way

■ Guidance that "everyone who can work from home must do so" remains

■ Theatres such as the Royal & Derngate and cinemas will be restricted to 50 percent capacity

■ Nightclubs will remain closed

But there is likely to be a reprieve for weddings, which at present can only be attended by 30 guests.