Country will reopen in ‘stages’, with hospitality one of the last, says Boris Johnson

The country will reopen in “stages”, with hospitality likely to be one of the last will be one of the last, Boris Johnson has said.

Speaking during a visit to Wales, the Prime Minister said the country would leave lockdown “in stages, cautiously”, as he stressed the need for progress to be “one way”. 

Asked about the prospects for bars and restaurants, said: “You have to remember from last year that we opened up hospitality fully as one of the last things that we did because there is obviously an extra risk of transmission from hospitality.”

His comments come as Conservative MPs raise the alarm over the impact on sectors already shut for months on end. 

Craig Tracey, MP for North Warwickshire & Bedworth, told the Telegraph that Boris Johnson must set out a “clear timeline next week”, after ministers said they would focus on “data not dates”. 

He added: “The vaccine programme is brilliant, but there needs to be light at the end of the tunnel. With the success of the scheme, which looks like continuing, July seems way too late for leisure and tourism”.

Karen Bradley, MP for Staffordshire Moorlands and former Northern Ireland secretary, added: “It will be OK if there is limited hospitality from April, but if there is nothing until July the sector is doomed.”

However a fellow Tory warned that the country would “have a collective nervous breakdown” if the country re-entered lockdown again, urging the Prime Minister to act cautiously after schools reopen. 

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01:08 PM

Philip Johnston: Vaccine passports will be difficult to resist, whether we like them or not

Doubtless many readers of this newspaper now have documents confirming they have had their first jab, with a space to be filled for the second.

The  small rectangular card also suggests that you should “make sure to keep this record card” in my wallet. Are they our passports to a pint, our tickets back to the theatre, our get out of jail free cards? Should they be?

This has now become the key debate as efforts are made to return to some semblance of normality after almost a year of on-off lockdowns, tiered restrictions and bizarre, pettifogging rules such as no sitting on a park bench outdoors.

Philip Johnston argues that vaccine passports may in fact become inevitable, whether we like them or not.



a close up of a person holding a sign: Is this flimsy card the precursor to something more permanent? - Getty


© Getty
Is this flimsy card the precursor to something more permanent? – Getty

12:55 PM

‘Not plausible’ to maintain lockdown after vaccination rollout concludes, says Sir John Bell

It is “not plausible” to expect people to live with major restrictions after the vaccine rollout is complete, Professor Sir John Bell has said. 

“It’s not plausible to imagine a world where we vaccinate the whole country and everybody believes they are still in a place we were in six months ago, it’s just not reasonable,” he told the Commons Science and Technology Committee.

The Oxford University professor said: “I think we are going to have to allow people to adapt their behaviours appropriately if they have actually had the vaccine.”

He added: “It’s better to plan for that than to assume you can hold back the water with a dam, because you won’t be able to.

“People will feel that they would like to get back to a relatively normal way of life and I suspect we are going to have to get used to that.”



a man wearing a suit and tie:  Sir John Bell, who is part of the Oxford University vaccine team - PA


© PA
 Sir John Bell, who is part of the Oxford University vaccine team – PA

12:47 PM

‘I feel like OJ Simpson’: Boris Johnson struggles to get latex glove on

Boris Johnson has compared himself to OJ Simpson as he struggled to get a latex glove on during his visit to a vaccination centre in Wales today. 

The former American football star and occasional actor was acquitted of murdering his wife Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman following a trial in which he famously failed to fit his hand into a bloody glove that had been found on his property.

12:35 PM

Boris Johnson: ‘Encouraging signs’ that vaccine is having effect

There are “encouraging signs” that the vaccine is bringing down infection rates, Boris Johnson has said, as he praised the “outstanding” vaccination rollout across the UK.

Speaking from a mass vaccination centre at Cwmbran Stadium in Cwmbran, south Wales, the Prime Minister said: “I think that across the whole of the UK there has been an outstanding vaccination performance.

“I think it’s 46,000 they’ve done in this centre, a really outstanding achievement. I think, as the song goes, ‘I’ve been all around the world and then Japan, I’ve never found a place for vaccines like Cwmbran’. How about that?”

He added: “I think that, overall, if you look at the infection rates across the UK, they are coming down a bit now. That’s very encouraging.

“I think one of the big questions people will want to ask is to what extent now is that being driven by vaccination. We hope it is, there are some encouraging signs, but it’s still early days.”

12:14 PM

Don’t go to work with a cough: How life after the pandemic will change?

It could become “socially unacceptable” to go to work with a cough even after the pandemic recedes, MPs have been told. 

Professor Dame Angela McLean, chief scientific adviser at the Ministry of Defence, told the Science and Technology Committee that is was “quite unlikely” for a full return to how society was before the pandemic struck.

“I suspect we just won’t go to work if we have a respiratory illness,” she said.

When asked whether this would be mandated, she added: “It would be most powerful if it became socially unacceptable to go to work with a cough.”

12:12 PM

‘No Covid outbreaks linked to crowded beaches’, infectious disease expert tells MPs

There has never been a Covid-19 outbreak linked to a crowded beach, MPs have heard.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, told the Science and Technology Committee: “Over the summer we were treated to all this on the television news and pictures of crowded beaches, and there was an outcry about this.

“There were no outbreaks linked to crowded beaches, there’s never been a Covid-19 outbreak linked to a beach ever anywhere in the world to the best of my knowledge.”

He said that mass gatherings – such as a horse racing event – are an exception because they do not involve social distancing and there are “pinch points” like travel and refreshment facilities.

“I think we do have to understand where the risks are so that we can do as much as possible safely,” he added.



a crowd of people at a beach: There was an outcry - but no outbreak - Getty


© Getty
There was an outcry – but no outbreak – Getty

12:01 PM

Government ‘concerned’ by Dubai princess footage

Boris Johnson said the Government was “concerned” following reports the daughter of Dubai’s ruler had accused her father of holding  Princess Latifa Al Maktoum against her will.

The Prime Minister said: “That’s something, obviously, which we are concerned about, but the United Nations Commission on Human Rights is looking at that.

“I think what we’ll do is wait and see how they get on. We’ll keep an eye on.”

This morning Dominic Raab said people would want to see that she is “alive and well” after she said in secretly recorded videos that she feared for her life.

11:42 AM

Government slow to reopen schools and outdoor activities in first lockdown, says professor

The Government was slow to reopen schools and outdoor activities in the first lockdown, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh has said. 

“I think we probably could have considered reopening schools much sooner in the first lockdown,” Professor Mark Woolhouse told the Science and Technology Committee. 

“The other thing, quite clearly, is outdoor activities. Again, there was evidence going back to March and April that the virus is not transmitted well outdoors.

“There’s been very, very little evidence that any transmission outdoors is happening in the UK.

“Those two things, I think, could have been relaxed sooner in the first lockdown.”

11:40 AM

Roadmap based on ‘cautious and prudent approach’, says Boris Johnson

Easing England’s lockdown will be based on a “cautious and prudent approach”, Boris Johnson has said. 

The Prime Minister was responding to whether he agreed with Professor Dame Angela McLean’s comments to the Science and Technology Committee that any unlocking should be based on “data, not dates”.

Speaking at a mass vaccination centre south Wales, Mr Johnson said: “I do think that’s absolutely right.

“That’s why we’ll be setting out what we can on Monday about the way ahead and it’ll be based firmly on a cautious and prudent approach to coming out of lockdown in such a way to be irreversible.

“We want to be going one way from now on, based on the incredible vaccination rollout that you’re seeing in Cwmbran.”



a person standing in a room: Boris Johnson disinfects a chair in the public waiting area as he visits a vaccination centre in Wales - AFP


© AFP
Boris Johnson disinfects a chair in the public waiting area as he visits a vaccination centre in Wales – AFP

11:36 AM

Hospitality likely to be one of the last sectors to reopen fully, Boris Johnson hints

Boris Johnson has hinted that hospitality will be one of the last sectors to reopen this year, as he stresses the need for a “one way” path out of lockdown. 

Speaking during a visit to Wales, the Prime Minister said the country would be “coming out of lockdown in such as way as to be irreversible”, adding: “We want it to be one way from now on.”

The country would leave lockdown “in stages, cautiously”, he added, as he hinted that pubs and restaurants would be among the last to reopen. 

“You’ll remember last year that hospitality reopened fully as one of the last things we did, because of that extra risk of transmission,” he said. “But we will set it all out on Monday.”

11:18 AM

Data points to ‘earlier unlocking’, says epidemiologist

A professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said the data is pointing to “earlier unlocking” of the country.

Mark Woolhouse told the Science and Technology Committee: “We don’t want to be overly focused on dates, not at all. We want to be focused on data. But the point I’d make about that is the data are going really well.

“The vaccination rollout is, I think, exceeding most people’s expectations, it’s going very well.”

He added: “The transmission blocking potential is key. But so, of course, is its actual ability to protect against death and disease, and to keep people out of hospital, and those numbers are looking really good.

“My conclusion from that is if you’re driven by the data and not by dates, right now, you should be looking at earlier unlocking.”

11:01 AM

Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown must be ‘irrevocable’, says MoD’s chief scientific adviser

Each step in the Prime Minister’s roadmap should be “irrevocable”, the chief scientific adviser at the Ministry of Defence has said. 

Speaking to the Science and Technology Committtee, Professor Dame Angela McLean said timing was more important than the R-rate, noting the key was how many vulnerable people had been vaccinated. 

“The important issue is to really watch very closely what is happening, so that if infections start to increase and that we do everything we can to decide whether it is a good moment to take another step in unlocking.

“Let’s use data, not dates,” she added. 

Other factors to be considered include hospital occupancy and what would happen to at-risk people who are not protected should there be a large epidemic among younger people, she said.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s comments that unlocking would be “cautious but irreversible”, she added: “I think it has been stated pretty clearly that each step should be irrevocable. That means we have to be extremely careful, before we add another unlocking.”

10:55 AM

Have your say: Should lockdown last until cases drop below 1,000?

This morning The Telegraph revealed plans to keep lockdown in place until cases fall below 1,000 – prompting concern among some MPs that the goalposts are being moved, as feared. 

Ministers have avoided confirming what figure cases must be before restrictions are lifted, despite Nadhim Zahawi saying yesterday they would be focused on “data, not dates”. This phrase was separately used by Nicola Sturgeon and NHS Providers boss Chris Hopson. 

Scientists have warned that, despite the most vulnerable people having been vaccinated, the high case rates make it more likely that a variant will mutate which can circumvent the existing drugs, before new ones can be developed. 

But there are concerns that this will see a never-ending argument for why restrictions should remain. 

So should lockdown stay in place until cases fall below 1,000? Have your say in the poll below. 

10:46 AM

Prime Minister told to create ‘big beast’ Cabinet minister role for the Union 

Boris Johnson has been told in a private report to create a new Cabinet position for the Union and make it as important a job as other “great offices of state” to help keep the UK intact.

Former Scottish minister Lord Dunlop submitted the report to the Prime Minister in November 2019 but has not yet been published. It is understood to give a detailed outline of the proposed Secretary of State for Intergovernmental and Constitutional Affairs, with the role treated as one of the “big beasts” in the Cabinet.

Lord Dunlop suggests the position be on a level with the other traditional great offices of state – the Foreign Office, Treasury and Home Office – to underscore the minister’s seniority.

The appointee would be in charge of leading interactions with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as generally overseeing the functioning of the Union. 

The Prime Minister is on a visit to Wales today – he may be asked about this Telegraph exclusive there. 

10:32 AM

Alexandra Phillips: Is Guy Verhofstadt the only Remainer willing to confront the EU’s failings?

With his curtained coiffure and signature smirk, Guy Verhofstadt is the Europhile Brexiteers love to hate. His foam-flecked fanaticism and fist banging polemics made many Remainers cower behind the couch during the Referendum.

Somehow the inimitable Guy represented everything they wanted to come to pass; centralised Euro-government with all the trappings of statehood. Yet it was his overt commitment to the Neo-Empire of Europa that pragmatic campaigners realised would scare not only little children, but anyone with a sane grasp of democracy. Pointing at the former Belgian Prime Minister with his bright yellow B*ll*cks to Brexit merch was a gift to Brexiteer campaigners.

Yet, as Alexandra Phillips points out, Verhofstadt’s is the only voice on the inside that has come out to criticise the Commission’s blinding ineptitude. 

10:12 AM

‘Classic triad’ of Covid symptoms missing a third of cases, King’s College study suggests

The “classic triad” of cough, fever and loss of smell (anosmia) – the symptoms that qualify for a Covid-19 test through the NHS – may be missing around a third of positive cases, a study suggests.

The findings, published in the Journal of Infection, are based on data from 122,000 UK adult users of the Zoe Covid Symptom Study app who underwent PCR swab testing.

Professor Tim Spector, lead scientist on the Zoe app and professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “We’ve known since the beginning that just focusing testing on the classic triad of cough, fever and anosmia misses a significant proportion of positive cases… By inviting any users who log any new symptoms to get a test, we confirmed that there are many more symptoms of Covid-19.

“This is especially important with new variants that may cause different symptoms.

“For us, the message for the public is clear: if you’re feeling newly unwell, it could be Covid and you should get a test.”

09:42 AM

Mass testing to play a ‘key part’ in Boris Johnson’s roadmap, says Dominic Raab

Mass testing will be a crucial element of Boris Johnson’s roadmap, the Foreign Secretary said today.

Boris Johnson has previously suggested tests would be used to reopen parts of the economy that have struggled during lockdown such as nightclubs and theatres. 

However it seems likely they will be used much more widely, as a “key part” of the strategy to unlock the country.  

Noting the success in places like Liverpool, Dominic Raab told Sky News that mass testing would be deployed so that “when you do have upticks of the virus, we can come down on it like a tonne of bricks”.

“It’s only one part of the strategic jigsaw,” he added. “There is a range of measures, but testing and rapid lateral flow testing is a key part of that.” 

09:41 AM

People to be deliberately infected with coronavirus in first human challenge study

The world’s first coronavirus human challenge study will begin in the UK within a month, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) has announced.

Healthy people will be deliberately infected with coronavirus, as part of a study to establish the smallest amount of virus needed to cause infection.

It will involve up to 90 carefully selected, healthy adult volunteers being exposed to Covid-19 in a safe and controlled environment,  following approval from the UK’s clinical trials ethics body.

This will give doctors greater understanding of Covid-19 and help support the pandemic response by aiding vaccine and treatment development.

09:21 AM

Mass testing is way to make life after lockdown ‘sustainable’, says Dominic Raab

Mass testing is the way to make life out of lockdown “sustainable”, Dominic Raab has said. 

The Foreign Secretary revealed that ministers had “ambitious targets”, amid reports of 400,000 lateral flow tests being posted out to homes per day.

“And we are absolutely doing everything we can to meet those targets,” he added. “They are obviously designed to be challenging, because we want to get people out of the current lockdown as soon as possible.

“The only way to do that is responsibly, safely – that’s the way we make it sustainable.”

Boris Johnson had been “cautious” on easing lockdown to ensure that there would be no “yo-yo-ing in and out of lockdown”.

He added: “We have got the tools in place, we are delivering on it, but of course it is a challenge.”

09:12 AM

July ‘far too late’ to lift tourism restrictions, says Tory MP

July would be “far too late” to lift restrictions for leisure and tourism, a Conservative MP has said. 

The Daily Mail this morning suggested that restrictions would be lifted gradually, starting with self-catered holidays at Easter and outdoor-only hospitality in May, before tourism getting “broadly” back to normal by July. 

Craig Tracey, MP for North Warwickshire & Bedworth, told the Telegraph that Boris Johnson must set out a “clear timeline next week” – amid growing concerns that it will be fudged following Nadhim Zahawi’s  emphasis on “data not dates” yesterday. 

He added: “The vaccine programme is brilliant, but there needs to be light at the end of the tunnel. With the success of the scheme, which looks like continuing, July seems way too late for leisure and tourism”. 



'Normality' still feels a long way off - AFP


© AFP
‘Normality’ still feels a long way off – AFP

08:59 AM

Easing lockdown will not be determined by ‘one particular indicator, says Foreign Secretary

Easing lockdown will not depend on any single indicator, such as case numbers, Dominic Raab has said, amid growing concern that the goalposts have been shifted. 

Boris Johnson will publish the path out of lockdown on February 22, but has been petitioned by NHS Providers to wait until cases come down much lower before restrictions are lifted. 

This morning The Telegraph revealed that this could mean lockdown isn’t lifted until cases fall below 1,000.

The Foreign Secretary told LBC radio: “The number of cases is important, and so is the R level – it is good to see the R level is below 1, there’s pressure on the NHS, there’s the rollout of the vaccine.

“There’s no single cast iron formula or one particular indicator above all other considerations that can decide this.”

08:52 AM

UK cannot ‘willy-nilly’ impose sanctions over Princess Latifa kidnapping

Dominic Raab said sanctions cannot be applied “willy-nilly”, in light of the reports of Princess Latifa Al-Maktoum’s kidnapping.

BBC Panorama has broadcast footage of the daughter of  Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is one of the richest heads of state in the world, the ruler of Dubai and vice-president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in which she claims to have been drugged by commandos and held “hostage”, following a failed escape attempt. 

Asked about what actions the UK would take, the Foreign Secretary told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s not as simple as saying: ‘Well, we could apply sanctions.’

“There is a very strict legal threshold. So for example, on the Magnitsky sanctions, which I introduced, they can be applied, asset freezes, visa bans, where there is evidence of torture, or forced labour, or an extrajudicial killing of some description.

“But it’s not simply the case that we can willy-nilly, if you like, just slap sanctions on individuals.”

08:42 AM

Exclusive: Covid lockdown to continue until cases drop below 1,000 a day

Lockdown is unlikely to be eased significantly until daily Covid cases are in the hundreds, compared with more than 10,000 a day now, The Telegraph understands.

Boris Johnson is due to publish a roadmap out of the restrictions next week, beginning with the reopening of schools from March 8, but the plan is unlikely to commit to a clear timetable for the coming months, instead promising a series of reviews which would see the reopening of shops, pubs and restaurants deferred until cases reach a low not seen since August.

Covid cases have fallen significantly in recent weeks and could reach less than 1,000 a day by early April if they continue to decline at the current rate. However, this is likely to be delayed by the impact of the return of schools. 

A senior Whitehall source said: “For any significant relaxation of lockdown, household mixing and reopening pubs, case numbers have to be in the hundreds, not thousands.”

Read the full story here.

08:36 AM

MP creates APPG on one punch assaults after father’s death

A Tory MP whose father was killed with a single punch when she was 13 has set up a parliamentary group to look at sentencing in such attacks.

Dehenna Davison, the Bishop Auckland MP, said the punch which killed her father hit him in exactly the wrong spot, causing an artery to burst, and he died almost instantly.

Speaking last year in Parliament about what happened, she recalled her family’s horror that his attacker was released from prison after just 18 months.

Writing in the Northern Echo today, she said: “Alongside trying to process the grief and shock of losing dad so suddenly, there was also the pressure and uncertainty of the court case, which took 10 months to complete, and ultimately left us with a burning sense of injustice.”

The All Party Parliamentary Group for One-Punch Assaults (APPG) is seeking to make a formal inquiry into sentencing and to make a report with proposals to make sure the courts “provide a fairer sense of justice”.

Ms Davison said the group will also look at educating people about the true impact of violence.

08:30 AM

Dominic Raab defends Government action on children 

Dominic Raab has insisted that the Government has “looked out at every stage” for disadvantaged children, as the outgoing Children’s Commissioner accused the Treasury of a bias against children.

In a speech later today, Anne Longfield will describe the £1bn pupil catch-up fund as demonstrating the Treasury’s “institutional bias against children” when compared with the £350bn in lost earnings that could result from school closures. 

She will also claim that “many” decision-makers in Whitehall “seem to view [children] as remote concepts or data points on an annual return”.

But the Foreign Secretary claimed that children were at the “heart of everything the Government does”, adding: “That is why of all the temptations for March 22 [sic], the one commitment the Prime Minister has made is to get children back to school because of the moral imperative, but also social impact that has.

He added: “This Prime Minister is the one who most believes we must reverse the decline in social mobility – I have not heard a Prime Minister talk as passionately about that as this Prime Minister.”

08:18 AM

UK ‘still some way’ from lifting lockdown, says NHS Providers boss

The UK is “still some way away” from being able to start relaxing restrictions, an NHS boss has said.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of the NHS Providers organisation, has written to Boris Johnson calling for him to meet four tests before easing lockdown: getting case numbers down, reducing pressure on the NHS, further strides in the vaccination programme and an effective strategy to control future outbreaks – which must be met first.

He told the Today programme: “I think if you look at where we are against those four tests, each one of them tells you that we’re still some way away from being able to start relaxing restrictions.”

This morning The Telegraph revealed that lockdown is unlikely to be eased significantly until daily Covid cases are in the hundreds, compared with more than 10,000 a day now.

Mr Hopson said he did not want to speculate what level case numbers should reduce to before restrictions were lifted but he cited Office for National Statistics data which estimates that 695,400 people in England have Covid-19, adding: “I think there is a pretty clear view is that number needs to come down to around 50,000.”

08:14 AM

Princess Latifa kidnapping ‘concerning’, says Dominic Raab

The kidnapping of Princess Latifa Al-Maktoum is “concerning”, but the UK will just be monitoring the situation for now, Dominic Raab has said. 

“You can only watch the footage shown and see that there is very distressing pictures, a very difficult case. I think it is concerning,” he told Sky News. 

“We always raise human rights issues with all of our partners, including the UAE.

“We have seen that the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights will be following up on what we have seen and we’ll be watching and monitoring that very closely indeed.”

The “proper course” of action was to follow the developments from the United Nations “quite closely”. he added.   

Asked if he would support seeing “proof of life” of Princess Latifa, he said: “I think given what we have just seen, I think people would just at a human level want to see that she is alive and well, of course.

08:11 AM

Foreign Secretary calls for ‘vaccine ceasefire’

The Foreign Secretary has called for a “vaccine ceasefire” to ensure the world’s most vulnerable people can be protected against Covid. 

Dominic Raab said that “we need a global solution to a global pandemic” when asked about the UK redistributing its vaccine supply to other countries.

“It’s true as well if we have got excess supply, in due course, when we know not just the amount of vaccines we need, but the timing, we would then want to think again whether there is an additional route of support that we might be able to provide,” he told Sky News.

“We are not there yet but we are already stepping up to the plate in the way I described by putting money in and using our convening power to get other countries to match it.

“That is the way we will support the most vulnerable countries, the most vulnerable people, around the world and show that we need a global solution to a global pandemic.”

08:02 AM

Exclusive: PM urged to appoint Cabinet minister for Union

Boris Johnson has been told in a private report to create a new Cabinet position for the Union and make it as important a job as other “great offices of state” to help keep the UK intact.

The Telegraph can reveal details of a report by the former Scottish minister Lord Dunlop, which was submitted to the Prime Minister in November 2019 but has not yet been published.

The report – an attempt to preserve the Union in the decades to come and counter the possibility of Scottish independence – is understood to give a detailed outline of the proposed role, which would be titled Secretary of State for Intergovernmental and Constitutional Affairs and is designed to be given to one of the “big beasts” in the Cabinet.

Lord Dunlop suggests the position be on a level with the other traditional great offices of state – the Foreign Office, Treasury and Home Office – to underscore the minister’s seniority.