Analysis by Chief Political Correspondent Jon Craig ahead of Prime Minister’s press conference
This is not what Boris Johnson wanted. After optimistic headlines after his press conference on Monday, when he confirmed that Stage 3 of his roadmap to freedom would take place on Monday, things suddenly changed.
The Department of Health was forced to issue an emergency declaration late at night in response to a sudden surge in the so-called Indian variant. So like a potent vindaloo curry, does the Indian variant get too hot to handle?
Worryingly, the last sentence of the government statement read: “We cannot rule out reimposing economic and social restrictions at the local or regional level if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or remove a variant. that escapes the vaccine. “
Realistically, it’s probably too late now to brutally turn around on all the lockdown rules that need to be relaxed on Monday: pubs, restaurants, theaters and cinemas open, allowing spectators to return to sporting events in limited number, etc.
These long-awaited and warmly welcomed changes are almost certainly harmless.
But it is less certain to move forward now if the Indian variant is not contained, these are the Stage 4 changes that the Prime Minister promised on June 21.
So we can expect to hear a lot from Mr Johnson and Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer of England, about the need for extreme caution, accountability and following government guidelines.
Professor Whitty has always said in previous Downing Street press conferences that step 3 – opening pubs, restaurants and other places indoors – poses the greatest risk of all steps in l gradual relaxation of COVID restrictions.
Fans of his cult hero deputy Professor Jonathan Van Tam will no doubt lament the fact that JVT will not stand by the Prime Minister in repeating his famous warning to ease last year’s lockdown, when he Memorably said, “Don’t rip the pants off outside of this!” ”