LIVE updates: as Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds Downing Street press conference

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to lead a Downing Street press conference at 5pm today, Monday, March 29 as lockdown restrictions are eased across England.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 4:43 pm

Boris Johnson is to be joined at the 5pm press conference by chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Restrictions in England have been relaxed from today, Monday, March 29 to allow groups to meet up and socialise outside.

Groups of up to six people from any number of households or a group of any size from up to two households are now allowed to gather in parks and gardens with social distancing.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is leading the Downing Street breifing.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts will also reopen and the Government’s “stay at home” order will end, with messaging moving to “stay local.”

Downing Street said that the road map to easing coronavirus restrictions remains “on track” with the Government keeping the “relevant data and scientific evidence under review” ahead of the next step.

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Live coronavirus updates on Monday, March 29

Last updated: Monday, 29 March, 2021, 17:19

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to address the nation at 5pm.
  • Coronavirus restrictions have been eased across England
  • Downing Street said that the road map to easing coronavirus restrictions remains “on track"

Boris Johnson to hold press conference at 5pm

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be joined at the 5pm press conference by chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Downing Street said that the road map to easing coronavirus restrictions remains “on track”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “We remain on track to deliver the road map.

“And we will continue to keep the relevant data and scientific evidence under review as we now move towards April 12, which as you know is step two.”

Health Secretary says the Government wanted the lifting of lockdown to be irreversible, adding: “We don’t want to go too fast.”

When asked about vaccine doses currently in the UK, Matt Hancock said: “We think that we’ve got the jabs to be able to deliver second jabs on time, and it’s really important that people have that assurance and come forward to get the second jab”.

He said the programme would move on to people in their 40s “as soon as we can”, adding: “I’m looking forward to that as well.”

On the issue of Europe potentially controlling exports of vaccines, he said: “Well it would be easier if we just allowed people to deliver jabs to fulfil their contracts, which is how things ought to operate. I think the best thing would be if we could all work together.

“We’ve worked so hard to get this vaccination programme working so fast in the UK. We’ve supported the setting up of these production sites in the EU as well as here, and we’ve put a lot of British taxpayers’ cash into getting this vaccine going. When you have a contract for the delivery of vaccines, I think that should be fulfilled.

“But also we took the decision really early on to make sure we also produce it here at home in case we have this sort of problem. So thankfully, the vast majority of the Oxford jab is made here at home.”

Downing Street said that talks with the EU on vaccine supplies were ongoing

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We continue to talk and work with the EU to ensure we have a reciprocally beneficial relationship, and to ensure we are collaborating on Covid-19.

“We have said before that it is an international effort and that openness and global co-operation will be key to overcoming this pandemic.

“So our work and our talks with the EU continue.”

What restrictions have been lifted today?

Two households or up to six people can now meet outdoors - what you can and can't do

People in England will be able to meet up outdoors in groups of up to six people, or as two households, as the first step in relaxing lockdown restrictions in England comes into effect today.

A further 18 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England

A further 18 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 86,194, NHS England said on Monday.

Patients were aged between 58 and 95 and all except one, aged 62, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between March 20 and March 28 this year.

Talks between the UK and the EU are taking place with the aim of securing a “win-win” solution on Covid-19 vaccines

The official spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Our first priority is to protect the British public.

“The vaccine rollout is continuing to that end. We don’t currently have a surplus of vaccines but we will consider how they are best allocated as they become available.”

At the European Commission’s daily press briefing, a spokeswoman refused to be drawn on the specifics of meetings that have taken place, but described the discussions with the UK as covering a “broad range of matters”.

She said: “There are no updates at this stage that we can provide regarding the talks between the UK and the European Commission on the matter of vaccine deliveries.

“Last week, we issued a joint statement emphasising our interest in continuing the (discussions) about finding ways out which are win-win and which rely on co-operation and the delivery and the maintenance of supply chains which are beneficial for the two partners and for the rest of the world.

“There is nothing else that we can announce other than what we have been saying since that talks continue and they cover a broad range of matters regarding vaccines and vaccine production.

“They’re not limited to one specific vaccine or to one specific manufacturing site, but they are very broad and they pertain to our co-operation and joint work on vaccines and supply chains.”

What can you do from today?

Full list of Covid rules changes in England from 29 March - including social contact and travel

Lockdown restrictions in England will be eased from 29 March, with the rule changes coinciding with the start of the Easter holidays.

The Prime Minister is set to address the nation shortly

Boris Johnson is to lead a Downing Street press conference at 5pm and will be joined by chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Boris Johnson leads press conference

The Prime Minister said: “It’s been a big day as it’s been the first chance for people to see friends and family in a long time.”

He added: “Today is a small step towards freedom.”

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