Today I have updated the country on the decision to proceed with Step Four of our Roadmap. We have come to a stage in the pandemic when there is no easy answer or obvious date for unlocking. We have cases rising significantly - with more than 30,000 a day. We can see what is happening across Europe as the Delta variant takes hold among our friends. We know we are going to see more hospitalisations and more deaths from COVID-19. However, we also know that this wave was clearly foreseen by our scientists when we first set out the Roadmap in February. And if anything, so far, we are in the middle range of their projections for infections and at the lower end of their projections for mortality. We know that if we were now to delay step four - for instance to September or later – then we would be re-opening as the weather gets colder and as the virus acquires a greater natural advantage, and when schools are back.
So now is the right moment to proceed, given we have the natural firebreak of the school holidays in the next few days. We are meeting our four tests but it is absolutely vital that we proceed now with caution. I cannot say this powerfully enough - this pandemic is not over. We cannot simply revert instantly from Monday 19 July to life as it was before COVID-19. We will stick to our plan to lift legal restrictions and social distancing. However, we expect and recommend that people wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where they come into contact with those they do not normally meet, such as on public transport.
As of 19 July, we are removing the Government instruction to work from home where you can but we do not expect that the whole country will return as one to their desks from Monday. We are setting out guidance for business for a gradual return to work over the summer. As a matter of social responsibility we are urging nightclubs and other venues with large crowds to make use of the NHS Covid Pass - which shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity - as a means of entry.
We are updating our guidance for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable on how they can keep themselves safe and I generally urge everyone to keep thinking of others and to consider the risks. We will keep our tough border policy, including quarantine for those arriving from red list countries. We will keep the test trace and isolate system in place. Every week that goes by we are getting hundreds of thousands more jabs into arms and our delay to the roadmap has enabled us to get seven million more jabs in the last month alone.
We have published more information on the move to Step Four of the Roadmap which has been deposited in the House Libraries.
By next Monday, two-thirds of adults will have received a second dose and every adult will have been offered a first dose. The single most crucial thing now is that everyone gets that jab. A jab that could protect your constituents and their families – and allow them to go on holiday.
It is only thanks to the vaccine programme that we are able to take these cautious steps now.
So please continue to encourage your constituents to get that jab.