Posted on July 2020 By Aaron Liffen
Today's news conference was led by PM Boris Johnson for just the second time since ending the daily news briefings last month as he outlines further changes to the UK's coronavirus lockdown. Today he was joined at the press conference by Dido Harding – the chair of the government’s test and trace programme. It comes after news that Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered an urgent review into calculation of daily coronavirus death figures.
Key points from the conference:
The PM has said the latest ONS data shows infections are stable and low and the number of coronavirus patients in hospital are more than 90% lower than their peak in April.
From tomorrow local authorities will have new powers, able to shut public spaces and close down events.
He said ministers will be able to shut down whole sectors, local stay at home orders, prevent people leaving areas, reduce size of gatherings beyond national rules and restrict public transport in areas.
Mr Johnson says antigen tests have increased 100 fold, with 200 mobile units which can be rapidly deployed where they are needed. He said more people are being tested without symptoms but who are at high risk.
Mr Johnson announces the biggest ever flu vaccination programme ever in the UK. He said they are providing an additional £3bn of funding for the NHS in England, to allow the NHS to continue to use hospital space from the private sector, and also the Nightingale hospitals.
Anyone can use public transport from now, the PM says. From 1 August, updates about going to work will be announced. Employers will be given more discretion, which could mean working from home or could mean working from the work place after it is made COVID secure.
Most remaining leisure settings, bowling, skating rinks, casinos and beauticians can resume from 1 August.
Night clubs and soft play areas need to be kept closed.
Wedding receptions for up to 30 people will be allowed.
Outdoor performances can also begin with large concerts allowed from October.
Dido Harding, head of the track and trace programme, says local authorities and local NHS trusts will work together. She said people in Leicester have been offered testing at their homes and information in multiple languages has been provided to residents. She said the new framework will make it easier for test and trace. An app and backwards contact tracing will be introduced, she said.
Mr Johnson says the public needs to continue social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands to help. He added the expansion of test and trace, and the further powers for local authorities will help. Ms Harding reminds people to go and get a test if you feel any symptoms, and you will get your test back within 24 hours.
Mr Johnson says two households are allowed to be inside now.
The prime minister says Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance give the government advice and they take them very seriously but in the end the decisions are taken by elected politicians. He says where employers decide with employees it's safe to go back to work then people should - as long as offices are COVID secure.
Asked how employers can make a decision when the government is not giving clear advice on work places, Mr Johnson said each office is different and we have found out the wonders of Zoom but if people work better in the office then that should happen.
Asked whether families will be able to spend Christmas together, Mr Johnson said it is important "we hope for the best but plan for the worst". He said: "The steps we are taking for September, October, November are all conditional on our ability to defeat the virus".
To read a brief summary of the last briefings points and important measures click here