Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay now
Get our daily coronavirus email newsletter with all the news you need to know direct to your inbox
Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Your information will be used in accordance with ourPrivacy Notice.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice
The new Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said there is "no reason" to delay ditching the remaining Covid restrictions beyond July 19.
Mr Javid confirmed that Step 4 of the roadmap would not be brought forward, but confirmed that England was on track to exit lockdown within weeks.
In his first Commons appearance since replacing Matt Hancock as Health Secretary, Mr Javid said: "I spent my first day as Health Secretary just yesterday looking at the data and testing it to the limit.
"While we decided not to bring forward Step 4, we see no reason to go beyond July 19, because, in truth, no date we choose comes with zero risk for Covid.
"We know we cannot simply eliminate it, we have to learn to live with it."
The newly appointed Health Secretary praised the success of the vaccine rollout as he set out hopes for lifting all restrictions on July 19
Boris Johnson says rules 'set fair' to go on July 19 with life like 'before Covid'
New Health Secretary Sajid Javid says ending lockdown quickly is his 'absolute priority'
He added: "July 19th remains our target date. The prime minister has called it our terminus date.
"For me, the 19th of July is not only the end of the line but the start of a exciting new journey for our country."
The latest data shows Covid cases soared by nearly 70% in a week, with 22,868 infections reported in the past 24 hours – the highest number since January 30.
A further three people died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the UK's total death toll to 128,103.
Mr Javid acknowledged the difficulties posed by the Delta variant, which accounts for 95% of cases in Britain.
But he said the success of the vaccine rollout was holding the more transmissible strain at bay.
Sajid Javid was appointed Health Secretary at the weekend after Matt Hancock resigned for breaking social distancing guidance by kissing a senior aide
(Image: Getty Images)
"When the Government took that decision on June 14, over 4.3 million over-40s had had a first dose but not a second," he said.
"Now that's down to 3.2 million people over 40. We can all be assured by how many more people are getting the life-saving opportunity that the vaccine offers."
He said vaccine uptake remains "sky high" and revealed more than half of adults under 30 have had their first dose since the rollout was extended to all adults.
Mr Javid struck a bullish note on ending restrictions, saying: "We also know that people and businesses need certainty, so we want every step to be irreversible.
"And make no mistake, the restrictions on our freedom, they must come to an end.
"We owe it to the British people, who have sacrificed so much, to restore their freedoms as quickly as we possibly can and not to wait a moment longer than we need to."
Mirror Politics newsletter – the e-mail you need to navigate a crisis-hit UK
Boris Johnson claims Matt Hancock had to go – despite giving him his backing on Friday
So-called Freedom Day was delayed from June 21 by four weeks, with a review pencilled in which could have seen restrictions eased on July 5.
Earlier, Boris Johnson dismissed the possibility of ending Covid restrictions early, saying it is "sensible" to stick with the planned "terminus" date of July 19.
The PM said England was "set fair" to ditch remaining lockdown rules on July 19 and he hoped for a return to "life as it was before Covid as far as possible".
Mr Javid was appointed to the role on Saturday after his predecessor Mr Hancock was forced to resign for breaching social distancing guidelines by kissing a close aide.
Pictures emerged of Mr Hancock passionately embracing his old university friend Gina Coladangelo in his Whitehall office.
Ms Coladangelo had been appointed as a non-executive director at the Department of Health by Mr Hancock, with a salary of £15,000-a-year, Downing Street indicated.