UK Covid live news: England lifts most remaining restrictions as poll suggests many voters see it as ‘wrong’ | Politics


Good morning. England has reached what the anti-lockdown media has been calling “freedom day” – the day when most remaining legal Covid restrictions disappear – but there is no sign of the mood of triumphalism anticipated a few weeks ago, and instead – in government, and amongst the public at large – there is growing concern that it might all go wrong. The Mail on Sunday claimed that Boris Johnson originally planned to give a speech today that would, in the words of a government source, “effectively declare victory over the virus by summoning the spirit of Churchill”. Obviously that is not happening, and instead yesterday Johnson issued a video message urging people to be cautious. He said:

So please, please, please be cautious. Go forward tomorrow into the next step with all the right prudence and respect for other people and the risks that the disease continues to present.

Given that experts from around the world are criticising Johnson for being the opposite of cautious – “dangerous and unethical” is the term used here – in his opening up policy, this might be a good example of why some have concluded that only the satirists describe this government properly, and why the Press Award for political commentator of the year last week went to my brilliant colleague Marina Hyde.

Johnson used to say he wanted lockdown easing to be cautious but irreversible. He has gone quiet on the “irreversible” bit recently and the news release issued by No 10 overnight confirms that the possible return of restrictions later this year is now a definite possibility. It says:

Data will be continually assessed and contingency measures retained if needed during higher risk periods, but restrictions will be avoided if possible.

Johnson was deemed to have won the 2019 general election because he was more in touch with public opinion than his rivals, but on Covid restrictions the public has consistently been much more pro-lockdown than Johnson himself and new YouGov polling for the Times today (paywall) suggests that, by a margin of almost two to one, people think lifting most restrictions in England today is wrong.

YouGov poll Photograph: The Times

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS publishes figures on the impact of Covid on the hospitality industry.

12pm: Downing Street holds its daily lobby briefing.

2.45pm: Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, gives evidence to the Commons European scrutiny committee.

3.30pm: Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccine deployment minister, gives a statement to MPs. He is expected to announce that the rollout of vaccination for children in England will be limited to those with underlying health conditions or children are about to turn 18.

Politics Live has been a mix of Covid and non-Covid news recently and that is likely to be the case today. For more coronavirus developments, do follow our global Covid live blog.

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