Boris Johnson is due to announce his winter plan for coronavirus today from Downing Street. The Prime Minister is expected to announce a slew of new plans focussed on vaccines as the first line of defence, supported by testing, public health advice and surveillance.
Mr Johnson is still expected to go ahead with the announcement despite the death of his mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, which was announced on Monday evening.
Ms Johnson Wahl, 79, died “suddenly and peacefully” at a London hospital on Monday, her death notice read.
The Prime Minister is expected to outline a series of options for the upcoming winter, including working from home and compulsory mask wearing, as part of his plans.
He will say that he is “dead set” against another lockdown and that another will only be considered a “last resort”.
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He is also expected to announce the start of the booster jabs programme that will target the over-50s.
An extra shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be administered at least six months after the second dose for those eligible amid concerns the protection vaccines give to older people fades over time.
Ministers believe it will help ensure the NHS is not overwhelmed by new cases of the disease as it moves into the autumn and winter.
Also included in the changes will be the traffic light system for international travel and the scrapping of some tests for travelling.
A senior Government source also said that the red list for travel would be “significantly” reduced, with scientists to pick where to draw the new line.
Will Boris Johnson announce another lockdown?
Today’s announcement comes as leading scientists from the Nervtag group warned “we are not out of the woods” and that the current figures “do not bode well for winter”.
Professor Ravi Gupta said: “We can see from the figures that we’re still nearing a thousand deaths a week and thousands of hospitalised patients that are challenging capacity in our hospitals – and of course making care for non-Covid patients extremely difficult as well because of the stretch of the staff that are in those hospitals who have been under pressure for 18 months now.
“So it’s pretty clear I think, from the data and from individual sources, that we’re not out of the woods and it doesn’t bode well for going into winter at all.”
He added: “If we cast our minds back to July 19, many scientists including myself, were saying that ‘we need to take this slowly because we have the transmission rates are far too high to be removing all restrictions, and this will have a knock-on effect.
“In other words we wouldn’t get away with this as a country moving into winter’.
“And what we’re seeing now is really the result of that advice not being heeded and now we’re in a position where we’re talking about lockdowns again.
“So I think that with the correct planning, this could have been avoided.”
Experts are also warning that the NHS will have a tough time this winter, and that some restrictions may need to come back to help stop the spread.