BRITAIN is expected to hit the 50million target for Covid jabs today — as the number getting their second vaccination topped 15million yesterday.
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But tempering the optimism, insiders have warned that “green” list holiday destinations could still turn “red” at the last minute on the travel traffic light system.
The announcements were made yesterday as 1,671 new cases and 14 additional deaths were recorded as the lockdown measures and the jabs rollout continued to curb the spread of the virus.
Mr Johnson praised people for their contributions as he hailed the one-third of adults who have now had their required two jabs.
He tweeted: “15million people across our United Kingdom have received two doses of a Covid vaccine.
“Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. Please keep coming forward to get your jabs to give yourself maximum protection from the virus.”
He believes there is no reason not to continue with his blueprint as planned as the rollout continues on track and cases remain low.
Strict funeral limits will go weeks earlier than planned, however, and individual venues will instead decide how many people they will let in.
Millions have been unable to pay their final respects to loved ones during the pandemic due to the tough rules.
Downing Street sources said the decision comes in response to the success of the vaccination programme, but has also been made to recognise the “huge sacrifices” the public has made by sticking to lockdown rules for so long.
A source said: “We know losing a loved one is incredibly difficult, especially during the pandemic. We are able to take this action as part of a cautious return to normal life.”
But the move is likely to put additional pressure on the PM to lift lockdown rules relating to weddings, social distancing and indoor mixing sooner than planned.
Foreign Secretary Raab confirmed that “almost all” restrictions were set to go on time.
But he said ministers will check the evidence on cases before making any calls.
He told the Covid-weary nation: “We’re nearly there.”
But he added: “There will still need to be some safeguards in place . . . particularly around social distancing, maybe something around masks.”
He dismissed suggestions that the end of the roadmap should be brought forward.
He explained: “We are very close now, really close to turning the corner — we don’t want to see the gains lost.
“There’s only a little bit more time to go, it’s right that we do it in a careful way. Just hang on, keep being guided by the science and the evidence.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock echoed the need for people to get their second shot.
He said: “It is absolutely vital to ensure people are getting the strongest possible protection from this deadly virus.”
Among those receiving the second dose yesterday was Loose Women panellist Ruth Langsford.
The TV presenter, 61, had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at a “busy” and “well-organised” hub in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey.
She posted a snap on Instagram, telling followers she was “so grateful” and thanking the “wonderful doctors, nurses and volunteers”.
Despite the good news, pub bosses said they needed more clarity on when they can revert to full capacity.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “June 21 is a critical moment for us.
“This is the point where hospitality businesses were looking to start breaking even again and turning to the corner to hopefully begin making profit.
“The industry has been through 14 months of making losses and ten months with no money coming in at all.”
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson will gather his top ministers and experts together this week to hammer out which countries will get the green light for free travel, meaning quarantine can be ditched.
The traffic light system will force travellers returning from “amber” countries to quarantine at home.
Those coming back from “red” Covid hotspots will have to stay in a top-security quarantine hotel at a cost to them of £1,750.
Mr Johnson will aim to give at least two weeks’ notice before changing any country, allowing holidaymakers more certainty.
But insiders said holidays may still be ruined at the last minute in the event of an extreme surge or new variant of concern.
One source said: “There can be emergency short-notice changes if something horrible crops up.”
Only “a handful” of countries are expected to be added to the initial green list.
Officials hope the number will grow as jab rollouts continue.
Everyone will have to pay for at least three Covid tests when they fly back from abroad.