NEW HEALTH Secretary and county MP Sajid Javid has told the House of Commons there is no reason for lockdown restrictions to continue beyond July 19.
In his first speech since replacing disgraced former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the Bromsgrove MP said while the ending of all legal restrictions would not happen on July 5 as many hoped, the end was in sight.
“No date we choose comes with a zero risk for Covid – we cannot simply eliminate it – we have to learn to live with it,” he said.
“We also know people and businesses need certainty so we want every step to be irreversible.
“Make no mistake – the restrictions on our freedoms must come to an end.
“We owe it to the British people who have sacrificed so much to restore their freedoms as quickly as we possibly can not to wait a moment longer than we need to.”
He added with numbers heading in the right direction and more people being protected every single day, July 19 remained the target date.
“For me July 19 is not only the end of the line but the start of an exciting new journey for our country.
“We must keep our resolve and keep to our road map so we can beat this pandemic and build back better.
“It is a task I am deeply honoured to lead and one I know will succeed.”
Mr Javid said he had met with NHS doctors, nurses and volunteers at St Thomas’ Hospital and praised the NHS which ‘had moved mountains this year’ and were now ‘helping us vaccinate our way out of this pandemic’.
“I pay tribute to them all and pledge to do everything I can to deliver for them and the people of this great country,” he said.
“Nothing embodies the spirit of public service more than our National Health Service and those who work in our social care.
This narrowing of the race between the virus and the vaccine had led to the Government pausing the road map and delaying the next easing of restrictions to July 19.
He added the extra time would be used to protect as many people as possible with both second doses and first dose targets being brought forward.
By July 19, he said, two thirds of adults would have had both doses of the vaccine which was working – including against the Delta variant.
“Vaccine enthusiasm remains sky high – age is no barrier for those wanting to get the jab.
Mr Javid said more than 27,000 lives had been saved by the vaccine which had also prevented more than seven million people contracting Covid-19.
“While the number of cases is ticking up, the number of deaths remains mercifully low,” he added.
“Our vaccines are breaking the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths.”