The UK’s Covid cases have plunged yet again after 23,275 people tested positive today – down 30.6 per cent on last Saturday.
In a positive sign that England’s third national lockdown is working, 10,000 fewer people tested positive today compared to the 33,552 cases on this day last week.
Today’s daily death toll has plummeted as well, as official figures showed 1,200 have died after testing positive – an 11 per cent drop on last Saturday’s 1,348 fatalities.
Data has shown the country’s ambitious vaccination plan is helping to reduce cases as well as protecting recipients from symptoms, early data has shown.
Professor Anthony Harnden, the deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said preliminary research suggested the first dose of the vaccine is helping to protect young adults and over-80s.
The UK’s Covid cases have plunged yet again after 23,275 people tested positive today – down 30.6 per cent on last Saturday
Today’s daily death toll has plummeted as well, as official figures showed 1,200 have died after testing positive – an 11 per cent drop on last Saturday’s 1,348 fatalities
He added that the data, which is set to be published in the next few days, also indicates Britons may benefit in the long-term from a delayed second dose.
The research, accessed through Public Health England (PHE) vaccination records, is mostly based on the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and represents around three to four weeks of the programme.
A total of 445,941 Covid vaccines were administered on Thursday, official figures show, of which 443,985 were given to people receiving their first dose.
The NHS data shows that 344,464 vaccinations were administered across England on January 28 and the total number of people vaccinated rose to 7,891,184.
Today’s promising figures come as Boris Johnson considers relaxing lockdown exercise rules to ease the pressure on Britons’ physical and mental health.
The Prime Minister has asked officials to draw up options for a slight lifting of the rules, which currently limit people to meeting one other person for outdoor exercise once a day.
Possible options include allowing people to meet a friend from another household for outdoor exercise more than once a day.
Alternatively, socially distanced exercise could be permitted in groups of three or four – although this is thought to be harder to police.
Boris Johnson is considering relaxing lockdown exercise rules to ease the pressure on our physical and mental health
It comes as Boris Johnson was spotted at the Olympic Park seven miles away from Downing Street earlier this month. Pictured, the PM cycling in Beeston last summer
Government sources have cautioned that the exit out of lockdown will be slow, with shops, gyms and hairdressers possibly opening in April, while scientists say that pubs and restaurants may be unable to open until May.
Last week Mr Johnson announced the lockdown would continue until at least March 8, with schools set to be the first facilities to reopen.
But a source familiar with the PM’s thinking said: ‘Schools will be first and everything else will have to take its place after that.
‘The only exception might be exercise. The PM keeps coming back to social contact – is there anything we could do to help a bit?
‘Could we do a bit more on exercise to help with people’s mental health? That is being looked at.’
Officials will also examine whether outdoor sports that can be social distanced, such as golf and tennis, could be allowed to resume. However, a source said that was unlikely at this stage.
A Cabinet Office task force has begun work on a new ‘road map’ out of lockdown, which will be published in the week beginning February 22.
Government sources have cautioned that the exit out of lockdown will be slow, with shops, gyms and hairdressers possibly opening in April
Earlier this month Mr Johnson was spotted cycling in the Olympic Park, seven miles away from Downing Street, despite Government restrictions limiting exercise to once a day and ‘you should not travel outside your local area’.
Ministers this month rejected calls to flesh out the rules surrounding exercise amid concerns their vagueness allowed police leeway to hand out fines too enthusiastically.
That two woman in Derbyshire were fined for driving five miles from their homes for a walk was held as an example of the gray area surrounding the ‘stay local’ advice.
In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has permitted people to travel up to five miles outside their local authority area, and in Northern Ireland, the Executive has placed a 10-mile limit. Wales also has a ‘stay local’ rule.
Although restrictions on exercise was earmarked as being among the first to be loosened, the PM has consistently said that reopening schools is a national pritority.
His announcement last week that children will not go back to classrooms after the February half-term and will have to wait until at least March 8 if the data permits was met with dismay from parents.
The Prime Minister penned an open letter to parents, carers and guardians to say they have responded ‘magnificently’, with the Government having faced sustained criticism for its handling of education during the pandemic
Many contacted MailOnline to describe the challenges of homeschooling while juggling a full-time job.
Today, Mr Johnson wrote an open letter to Britain’s parents thanking them for doing ‘a great job’ during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the open letter, Mr Johnson wrote: ‘I’m particularly in awe of the way the parents, carers and guardians of children have risen to the unique challenges with which you have been faced.
‘Whether you’ve been welcoming a baby into the world without all the usual support networks, finding new ways to entertain a restive five-year-old when the soft play centre is shut and playdates are but a distant memory, or steering a teenager through the emotional stresses and strains of these unprecedented times, you have been dealt the trickiest of hands yet played it magnificently.’
He insisted the Government is ‘doing everything we can to support you’, with laptops being sent to schools and the extension of free school meals after pressure from critics.
And Government scientists say that pubs and restaurants may be unable to open until May
Lockdown rules: So what ARE we allowed to do then?
Can I go for a walk with a friend?
LEGAL: Meeting one person from outside your household is permitted in England if you leave home on your own, and observe social distancing. You should leave home only once a day.
NOT LEGAL: Two or more people from your household cannot meet anyone from another household for exercise. It has to be one-to-one. There are only very limited exceptions, such as meeting someone who is in a support bubble with you because they live alone.
GREY AREA: Guidelines say you should ‘stay local’, and adds that this means ‘the village, town, or part of the city where you live’. The Government advises that you should leave home on foot rather than go by car or public transport to meet a friend.
Can I buy a coffee with a friend while I’m out?
LEGAL: Buying a takeaway coffee is legal, providing you observe the one-to-one rule. ‘If you’re getting coffee on your way to do exercise, or as part of your acquiring food, or one of those reasons you’re allowed to be out of the house, then that is legitimate,’
Home Office minister Kit Malthouse told Good Morning Britain yesterday. Last week Derbyshire Police fined two women £200 each for meeting up five miles from their homes, and said their takeaway drinks were an illegal ‘picnic’ – but the force has since cancelled the penalties and apologised.
NOT LEGAL: Meeting more than one person for a coffee. Sitting down with a coffee with a friend on a park bench for an extended period of time.
GREY AREA: The Government has not defined when a short sit-down to catch one’s breath during exercise becomes illegal. It is encouraging people to use their judgment and act responsibly, rather than look for loopholes in the lockdown rules.
Can I go for a bike ride?
LEGAL: A bike ride of 50 to 70 miles would be fine in most cases, Mr Malthouse said.
NOT LEGAL: Presumably, travelling further than 70 miles would be illegal.
GREY AREA: The nature of cycling means large distances can be covered. The parameters set out by the minister are yet to be tested.
Can I drive somewhere to exercise?
LEGAL: Yes, if absolutely necessary. The England guidelines say you should stay local, but they do not ban driving to exercise alone or as a household. Different rules apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
NOT LEGAL: Driving a long distance.
GREY AREA: A medium distance would probably not be in the spirit of the rules, especially as ministers have been clear you should be exercising on foot from home wherever possible. The exact point at which a short local drive becomes a breach of the rules is unclear.