PM confirms restrictions will ease next week but warns of potential June disruption
There was a tone of caution from the PM
Boris Johnson has confirmed that England's roadmap out of lockdown will not be changing as of yet, despite growing concerns around the so-called Indian variant, admitting that "we believe this variant is more transmissible... but we don't know by how much."
The Prime Minister said that the government would be accelerating the rollout of second doses of vaccine for the clinically vulnerable and over-50s. He also warned that the new variant could "pose serious disruption" to the progress of the lifting of lockdown restrictions further down the line.
Johnson said: "I do not believe that we need on the present evidence to delay the roadmap.
"But I have to level with you that this new variant could pose a serious disruption to our progress and could make it more difficult to move to step four in June," he says.
"I must stress that we will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe."
However Johnson said that "at this stage there is no evidence of increased cases translating into unmanageable pressures" on the NHS.
He added that he was "very sorry" for those in Bolton and Blackburn where cases of the Indian variant are at highest.
Whilst the easing of restrictions on 17 May will not be altered, Johnson urged people "to exercise the greatest caution because the choices we each make in the coming days will have a material effect" on England's progress.
He encouraged people to get the vaccine when eligible, get free lateral flow tests, and adhere to self-isolation measures if they are asked to do so.