FOUR more people have died with Covid in the past 24 hours as the UK prepares to take the next steps out of lockdown tomorrow.
Brits will return to pubs, hug loved ones and even jet off on hols abroad next week – hours after one of the lowest death tolls recorded this year was revealed.
🔵 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates
However, in more sobering news, the number of people newly-diagnosed with the deadly bug has slightly risen – amid concerns over a super-infectious mutant variation of Covid first spotted in India.
But it's believed vaccinated people are fall less likely to fall seriously ill with the variant – and today it was confirmed that 20million second jabs have been dished out as the UK.
Meanwhile, Matt Hancock announced this morning that people aged 35 and over will be welcomed in for their first inoculation in the coming days.
The Health Secretary confirmed that jabs will become available to the latest age group as the UK races to take on the extra-transmissible strain.
He told the BBC's Andrew Marr surge vaccinations will open in Bolton, a hotspot for the new variant – before adding: "This coming week we will be opening up vaccinations to everyone 35 and over across the country.
"It isn't just about accelerating the programme in Bolton.
"It's about going as fast as we can nationwide."
The Indian strain has spread rapidly and “reached all corners of the UK” within a matter of weeks. Bolton and Blackburn are particularly badly affected.
And the PM admitted he is "very anxious" about the mutation.
However, Mr Hancock said he has a "high degree of confidence" that the jab does work against the new variant.
"There is new, very early data out from Oxford University – I'd stress this is from labs and it is not clinical, but it does give us a high degree of confidence that the vaccine does work against it," he told Sky's Sophy Ridge.
And he said there are clear signs those not taking the jab when it's offered are far more likely to fall ill.
"In Bolton, we have seen number of people in hospital with the variant," he said.
"The vast majority have been eligible for the jab but not taken it.
"If you're eligible, please come forward – we know the jab protects you."
Despite fears over the mutation, the UK will take a huge step towards freedom tomorrow, with hugs, hols abroad and even casual sex making a very welcome return.
Under the new rules, Brits will be able to meet inside – still following the rule of six or two household restriction.
Hotels and B&Bs will reopen, and would-be holidaymakers dreaming of a sunshine break will finally be able to take overseas trips.
Indoor entertainment and attractions are also set to open up – and groups can head to the pub and sit inside.
Indoor exercise classes will reopen, and those less active can finally head to cinemas and museums.
Theatre and concert performances – along with sports events – will also start to allow 1,000 people, or 50 per cent of the venue's capacity – whichever is lower – to start again.
Under the rule change, weddings and receptions will be able to go ahead with 30 people.
The rules are different for funerals. Rather than having a strict limit, the capacity will be determined by how many people places of worship or funeral homes can safely have inside while mourners are social distancing.
Social distancing will remain in place in the weeks to come.
A big night out at a club, a break to Spain and a big white wedding are all off the table for the time being.
Holidaymakers can enjoy trips to a small handful of 'green list' countries, including Israel, Singapore, Portugal, the Falkland Islands, Ascension, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Brunei from May 17.
But traditional hol hotspots like Spain and Greece are currently on the amber list, meaning anyone who does travel there must quarantine at home for ten days upon their return.
Source: Read Full Article