BORIS Johnson tonight urged locals in Indian coronavirus variant hotspots to “think twice” about indoor mixing and travelling outside their area.
The PM told a Downing Street briefing that Brits in hard-hit areas should exercise caution – just three days before lockdown restrictions are eased further.
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Mr Johnson’s warning comes amid heightened fears over the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant, which has prompted a surge in cases in parts of the country.
Surge testing will be deployed in Bolton and Blackburn to help monitor transmission.
The PM tonight urged people to "think twice" ahead of travelling to areas with higher incidences of the Indian variant and staying with family and friends within those areas.
He said: "I would urge people just to think twice about that.
"We want people in those areas to recognise that there is extra risk, an extra threat of disruption to progress caused by this new variant and just to exercise their discretion and judgment in a way I'm sure that they have been throughout this pandemic."
It comes as…
- Four deaths from Indian variant as cases double in a week
- Quarter of Brit adults feel overwhelmed by post-lockdown life, survey reveals
- Where is the Indian variant in the UK? From London to Bolton – map reveals surge testing hotspots
- Sage graphs predict how Indian variant could trigger biggest wave yet – even WITH vaccines
- Britain’s lockdown on track to be lifted despite cases of Indian Covid variant doubling
Experts fear the variant could be more transmissible than the Kent strain, though it is not thought to be more resistant to vaccines.
Despite the spread of the variant, the PM tonight vowed that Step Three of lockdown easing would go ahead as planned from Monday.
Up to six people will be allowed to mix indoors and the hospitality industry allowed to serve indoors.
Brits will also be able to travel abroad for the first time this year – but to a limited number of countries.
Boris Johnson also warned that “important unknowns” remained around the Indian variant, such as whether it could evade vaccines.
And he said a surge in infections could “make it more difficult to move to step four in June 21” – the date on which all legal Covid restrictions will end.
He said: "I'm told that if it is only marginally more transmissible we can continue more or less as planned but if the variant is significantly more transmissible we're likely to face some hard choices."
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In a bid to combat the spread, the PM said the government would accelerate the provision of second doses of vaccines.
He added: "It's more important than ever therefore that people get the additional protection of a second dose."
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