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Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health in the United Kingdom, addressed the House of Commons about July 19 ‘Freedom Day’.

This is before Boris Johnson addresses the nation at 5pm today.

Speaking to MPs, Sajid Javid said that it was the “right time to get our nation closer to normal life”.

He added that lockdown restrictions will ease as planned- but he urged businesses and the public to act with caution.

Javid added that the government will be encouraging some businesses and large events in “high risk settings” to “use certification”.

Sajid Javid explained: “To those who say ‘why take this step now’ I say ‘if not now, when?’

“There will never be a perfect time to take this step because we simply cannot eradicate this virus.

”Whether we like it or not- coronavirus is not going away.

“Moving forward next week, supported by the arrival of summer and school holidays, it gives us the best possible chance of a return to normal life.”

Mr Javid said the Government’s approach was “about balancing the harms that are caused by Covid with the undeniable harms that restrictions bring”.

Ministers concluded that the four tests set for unlocking, the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence that vaccines are causing a reduction in hospital admissions and deaths, that infection rates do not risk a surge in admissions, and that no new variants of concern throw progress off track, are being met, allowing Step 4 of the road map to proceed as planned.

This is despite official acknowledgement that there could be 100,000 new cases a day in the summer.

“Cases are rising, propelled by the new, more transmissible, Delta variant,” Mr Javid said.

“The average number of daily cases is over 26,000 and this has doubled over the past 11 days.

“And sadly the case numbers will get a lot worse before they get better – we could reach 100,000 cases a day later in the summer.”

Hospital admissions will also rise further but they are “far lower than they were at this point during the previous wave” and the vaccines had “severely weakened” the link between people catching coronavirus and ending up developing serious illness and possibly dying.

Times Series: (PA Graphics)(PA Graphics)

The Government has previously said that from Step 4 all coronavirus restrictions on gatherings will be removed, masks will no longer be legally required, social distancing measures will be scrapped and the order to work from home will be lifted.

But while the legal restrictions are going, guidance will make clear that people and firms are expected to continue to take action to limit the spread of the virus.

This includes the widespread use of Covid status certification, the so-called vaccine passports allowing people to show whether they are double-jabbed, have a negative test result or have natural immunity after recovering from Covid-19.

Nightclubs, which have been closed since the first lockdown in March last year, will be allowed to open their doors but will be encouraged to use certification to minimise the risks.

Other “large events” will also be encouraged to use vaccine passports, with customers able to prove their status using the NHS app.

Times Series: (PA Graphics)(PA Graphics)

Downing Street said the Government will “expect and recommend” the continued use of face masks in crowded areas and on public transport.

The return of employees to the workplace, seen as key for helping town and city centre businesses which rely on commuters, is not expected to happen overnight, with firms encouraged to take a gradual approach.

A series of guidance documents will set out what is expected of firms as the Government shifts responsibility from the state to company bosses and citizens.

This includes new guidance for the clinically extremely vulnerable, those most at risk from coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead a Downing Street press conference at 5pm to give further details of the plans, joined by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

Mr Javid said a review would be carried out in September “to assess our preparedness for autumn and winter”.



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