United Kingdom

Boris Johnson urges ‘heavy caution’ as lockdown restrictions eased despite Indian variant

There is growing concern about the Indian coronavirus variant which is sweeping across parts of Britain. Whilst it is not believed to be vaccine resistant, the new variant is understood to be around 50 percent more infectious than the currently dominant Kent strain.

From Monday groups of up to six people will be permitted to meet indoors, or 30 outdoors.

Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers inside whilst the complete ban on foreign holidays is lifted.

In a statement Mr Johnson said: “Together we have reached another milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown, but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution.

“We are keeping the spread of the variant first identified in India under close observation and taking swift action where infection rates are rising.

“But now everyone must play their part – by getting tested twice a week, coming forward for your vaccine when called and remembering hands, face, space and fresh air.

“I urge everyone to be cautious and take responsibility when enjoying new freedoms today in order to keep the virus at bay.”

The Prime Minister has previously suggested the final stage of reopening, on June 21, could be delayed due to the Indian variant outbreak.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock reported there are over 1,300 cases of concern of the new variant.

READ MORE: Matt Hancock humiliates Andrew Marr as he fact-checks BBC host

The Government hopes to make vaccines available to all those aged over-35 during the next week.

As Mr Johnson gives the green light to foreign holidays from tomorrow, Yvette Cooper, Labour MP and home affairs select committee chair, argued against lifting the travel ban.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show she said: “The Government needs to slow down its plans.

“I don’t understand why it’s lifting some of its international travel restrictions tomorrow.

“I think they should be being much more cautious about that.”

Britain’s coronavirus vaccine scheme has been highly successful with over half the population receiving at least one jab.

This is significantly above the level achieved in key EU member states, which have suffered from a sluggish rollout.

Oxford professor of medicine Sir John Bell said the current vaccines “look okay” against the Indian variant.

He added: “It’s not perfect, but it’s not catastrophically bad.”

In total 128,000 people have suffered coronavirus related deaths in the UK since the pandemic began.

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