Last week the Prime Minister announced that we will pause step four of the roadmap out of lockdown by four weeks, giving the NHS time to accelerate our vaccine programme and save lives. When we set out on our roadmap to freedom a few months ago, we were determined to make progress that was cautious but irreversible. Step by step – thanks to the enormous efforts of the British people and the spectacular vaccine roll-out we now have one of the most open economies and societies in this part of the world. While vaccinations greatly reduce transmission – and two doses provide a very high degree of protection against serious illness and death – there are still millions of adults who have not been fully vaccinated. That is why we are so concerned by the Delta variant which is now spreading faster than the third wave predicted in the February roadmap – seeing cases grow by 64 per cent per week. Since we are not meeting all four tests for proceeding with step four of the roadmap, it is right that we delay taking Step 4 until 19 July to give our NHS a few more crucial weeks to get those remaining jabs into the arms of those who need them and complete our cautious but irreversible roadmap to freedom.
Our aim is that by 19 July all adults will have been offered their first dose of the vaccine with around two thirds fully vaccinated. However, whilst we are not able to take the full step we wanted, the ongoing success of our vaccine rollout means we can take some more cautious steps – including removing the 30 person limit on weddings and wakes, removing the requirement for care home residents to isolate for 14 days after visits out, and allowing major sporting events – including the final four UEFA Euro 2020 matches at Wembley and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships to go ahead with greater capacities. Now is the time to ease off the accelerator because by being cautious now we have the chance – in the next four weeks – to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.
As you may have seen in the news, scams continue to be a prevalent issue and Citizen’s Advice are running a two-week awareness campaign on the issue. As a result of coronavirus, many people are facing issues with employment, debt, housing and health, and scammers are exploiting the financial pressures this is putting people under. Citizens Advice research found that more than two-thirds of people in the UK have been targeted by a scam since the start of the year; this includes 7 in 10 people (69%) in the Southwest. The number of scams reported to Citizens Advice since the start of the year has more than doubled compared to the same time last year and we need to make sure the public are on the lookout for potential scams. You can learn more about the campaign at www.citizensadvice.org.uk.