Will coronavirus restrictions be lifted early as Javid updates MPs today?

Sajid Javid, communities secretary breaks his silence. Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

New health secretary Sajid Javid - Credit: PA

New health secretary Sajid Javid will update MPs on when the remaining Covid measures will be lifted in England.

The government had originally planned to lift all restrictions on social contact on June 21, but this was delayed due to concerns over the Delta variant. 

A new date of July 19 had been stated, but prime minister Boris Johnson also promised a data review to see if this can happen two weeks earlier on July 5. 

The statement about coronavirus restrictions is expected in the House of Commons at about 3.30pm. 

Having only been appointed as Matt Hancock's replacement as health secretary late on Saturday, Mr Javid spent much of Sunday at the Department of Health and Social Care, getting the latest briefings from advisers.

Some Conservative backbenchers have urged the government to ease controls quickly, saying the country must learn to live with Covid and given the investment in the vaccination programme. 

But a health expert has said the government should not rush the decision. 

Professor Sir Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "We always have to be driven by the data, not the dates.

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"We're watching it very carefully and there will be a lot of analysis of the data coming up to that date, to make sure we're comfortable with that release.

"At the moment, the data is encouraging that we can do that. But we have to make sure that we follow the data."

Prof Horby, who is also professor of emerging infectious diseases in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, said he would not bring the restrictions easing date forward, adding that it had been "very sensible" to delay it by four weeks.

"I don't think we should rush into anything, we really want to make sure that we can release all restrictions and not have to backtrack at all," he added.

On Sunday, NHS England said half of all adults under 30 in England had received a Covid-19 vaccine, with more than 4.2 million people aged 18 to 29 jabbed in three weeks.

Over the weekend, hundreds of walk-in vaccination sites, including at stadiums and shopping centres, opened in England as part of the "grab a jab" campaign to boost vaccine uptake.

The Government said that, as of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 18,270 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, while a further 23 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 128,089.

Public health professor Linda Bauld told Trevor Phillips on Sky News that rising Covid-19 cases were a "cause for concern" but that the proportion of people requiring hospital treatment was "more positive news".

She said: "The proportion of people going into hospital as a proportion of cases is far, far lower.

"For example at the beginning of this year it might have been 10-15pc of people who would end up in hospital, now it's about 5pc.

"If that trend continues... then I think the Government is under a lot of pressure to stick with that date (July 19).

"But all the researchers and clinicians will be saying 'let's make sure the data is going in the right direction' a week or two before then."

Prof Bauld was asked whether there was a behavioural issue over putting the July 19 date "up in lights" and making it hard for the Government to change it.

She said: "I think the date thing is a problem. When you set a date like that people are looking forward to it. It's a bit like going on holiday, you start to relax a bit before going on holiday, you anticipate it, you're looking forward to it.

"I think people are thinking 'if we've got that date it means we're almost back to normal so if it's almost back to normal, I might as well do these things now'.

"You can see from the ONS social impact survey that people's compliance with distancing has declined, their contacts have gone up, of course, but more than we might have thought."