Dominic Raab today rejected calls to speed up the nation's exit from lockdown as he insisted 'we are very close now to really turning the corner' in the battle against coronavirus.
The success of the UK's vaccination programme and falling infection numbers have prompted demands for the Government to bring forward its roadmap reopening dates.
But the Foreign Secretary this morning urged people to be patient as he insisted June 21 - the final step in the roadmap - is not far away and 'we are nearly there'.
He argued that 'taking steady steps out of the lockdown is the smart way to go' to avoid undoing the progress made during the national shutdown.
He also offered a major incentive to Britons to stick to the current timetable as he promised that on June 21 'almost all social restrictions will be lifted'.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
His comments came after official statistics showed that UK coronavirus deaths had dropped by more than three quarters in a week after seven fatalities were reported yesterday.
Dominic Raab today rejected calls to speed up the nation's exit from lockdown as he insisted 'we are very close now to really turning the corner' in the battle against coronavirus
The Foreign Secretary this morning urged people to be patient as he insisted June 21 - the final step in the roadmap - is is not far away and 'we are nearly there'. People are pictured enjoying Friday evening in Soho, central London on April 30
Mr Raab argued that 'taking steady steps out of the lockdown is the smart way to go' to avoid undoing the progress made during lockdown. People are pictured walking in Whitstable in Kent yesterday
Families are set to get the go-ahead to take summer holidays in some popular European hotspots before the end of the month, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The Government is expected to announce as early as this week the first countries that Britons can visit without having to quarantine – but the list is only believed to include a handful of destinations.
Sources say the so-called 'green list' will be updated every three weeks, raising the prospect that new countries – including popular destinations in Europe – will be announced before the end of this month. For much of the country, the half-term break starts on May 31.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Under the traffic-light system for foreign travel, those returning from green countries will not need to quarantine but will have to take two Covid tests – one before they return to the UK, which can be either a lateral flow or PCR test, and a PCR test on the second day after they arrive back.
Those who return from countries designated as either amber or red will still have to quarantine, either at home or in a hotel, and have three compulsory tests. Government officials are debating whether to stick to previous policy plans of having all children under 11 exempt from having to take the tests.
The majority of European countries are expected to be given amber status this week, but there is optimism that some will turn green when the list is next updated.
The ban on overseas holidays will end on May 17, along with the threat of fines for attempting to travel without a permitted reason.
Ahead of the cautious return to international travel, the Government will shortly unveil a new slogan 'Travel Safely, Plan Ahead'. It will replace the current 'Minimise Travel' guidance.
An announcement by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps of which countries have been given which colour is thought to have been pencilled in for Friday, although it could slip to early next week. Ahead of it, the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), which provides evidence-based analysis to the Government, will assess the latest data from around the world.
Mr Raab's comments came as:The Foreign Secretary said that 'all the different contingencies' are being looked at when asked about a reported plan to offer vaccines to secondary school pupils as soon as September. Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said it is 'very much an open question' whether secondary school pupils will need to be vaccinated. Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, backed the idea of vaccinating secondary school pupils as she said 'if the current trials are promising, then I do think (vaccinating children from September) will happen'. Labour welcomed plans to trial the use of rapid lateral flow testing to make it easier for people to avoid quarantine after contact with someone with a positive test.
The next step of Boris Johnson's lockdown exit roadmap will see further rules loosened on May 17 before a fourth and final step on June 21.
The Government is hoping that the June 21 date will herald a return to something close to normal life.
But the UK's vaccination drive and falling death numbers have piled the pressure on the Government to move more quickly.
Mr Raab today defended the pace of the exit from lockdown as he was grilled by Sophy Ridge on Sky News on why people are still banned from hugging their loved ones.
The Foreign Secretary said: 'Look, there is all of the risks that come with this that we have just got to gauge very carefully.
'On the 17th of May we will take another, the third step in the roadmap if you like, we will ease up, there will be more opportunities for households