British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Downing Street Briefing Room on July 5, 2021.
  • The UK prime minister announced plans to lift most restrictions in England on July 19.
  • He said the country has to accept that there will be more coronavirus deaths to come.
  • There's been a surge in new infections in the UK, but the PM cited the effectiveness of vaccines.
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country must reconcile itself to more Covid-19 deaths as the government prepares to lift nearly all restrictions to slow the spread of the disease on July 19.

Johnson told a press conference on Monday that there could be 50,000 new cases recorded a day amid a new surge in infections from the Delta variant, but that the effectiveness of the country's vaccination programme meant that remaining restrictions in England could be lifted anyway.

"We're seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid," he said. "In these circumstances we must take a careful and a balanced decision."

"And there's only one reason why we can contemplate going ahead to step four in circumstances where we'd normally be locking down further, and that's because of the continuing effectiveness of the vaccine rollout."

If lifting restrictions is delayed further, he said, "we run the risk of either opening up at a very difficult time when the virus has an edge, has an advantage, in the cold months, or again putting everything off to next year."

He said that by July 19, every adult in the UK will have been offered a vaccine shot and two-thirds of adults will have received two doses.

He said that in relaxing restrictions, the likelihood of further deaths from Covid-19 had to be balanced against the effects of continued restrictions.

"We have to balance the risks of the disease and of continuing with legal restrictions, with their impact on people's lives and livelihoods," he said.

Under the new plan, restrictions including compulsory mask rules for public spaces indoors, social distancing measures, and orders to work from home where possible will no longer apply.

Chris Whitty, the government's chief medical advisor, said on Monday that scientific projections indicated that the lifting of restrictions could quickly lead to more hospitalisations, but that the numbers would likely peak before they got as high as January's surge.

Studies have shown that vaccinations can be effective at preventing severe illness from the Delta variant.

Data from the UK published last month found that of those who were fully vaccinated who caught the Delta variant, a relatively small proportion died, and almost all were over the age of 50.

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