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UK Covid live: public backs Johnson’s plan for lockdown easing in England, polls suggest

Number of people who think PM has got ‘balance about right’ outnumbers those who think he is moving too slowly or quickly, says YouGov

9.51am GMT

Dr Mike Tildesley, reader in mathematical modelling of infectious diseases at the University of Warwick and member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M – effectively a sub committee Sage), told the Today programme this morning he was worried that Covid could persist in poorer communities. Asked if it could remain a “disease of the deprived”, he said:

This is a real concern actually for me and I know a number of other scientists have raised this, that we may end up in a situation where we have the ‘vaccine rich’, as it were, who are able to access the vaccine who have taken up the vaccine and are at much lower risk.

And there may be people in society who have not taken up the vaccine and potentially these individuals could be clustered in particular parts of the country, and there is increased risk there.

9.44am GMT

EasyJet says it experienced a surge in bookings after the PM said yesterday that foreign holidays might be permitted from 17 May. As PA Media reports, in the hours after the announcement, easyJet said bookings by UK customers for the summer season were more than four times higher compared with the same period during the previous week. The Luton-based firm’s holiday division saw an even larger rise, with demand up seven-fold.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said:

We have consistently seen that there is pent-up demand for travel and this surge in bookings shows that this signal from the government that it plans to reopen travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for.

The prime minister’s address has provided a much-needed boost in confidence for so many of our customers in the UK with demand for flights up 337% and holidays up 630% already compared to last week and beach destinations proving most popular for this summer.

9.35am GMT

The UK unemployment rate rose to 5.1% in the final quarter of last year, according to figures out this morning. My colleague Graeme Wearden has the details, with reaction and analysis, on his business live blog.

Related: UK jobless rate rises to 5.1% for first time since 2016 – business live

9.32am GMT

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said that everyone needs to play their part in order to meet the targets set for easing lockdown in England with the aim to move to “personal responsibility” rather than having social distancing laws “that get in the way of normal life”, my colleague Sarah Marsh reports.

Related: Hancock says ‘it’s on all of us’ to help ease Covid lockdown in England

9.00am GMT

Good morning. Snap polls aren’t a perfect way of measuring public opinion – they involve people being asked about events that have only just happened, many respondents will not have read beyond a headline, and no one will have had time to mull it over properly – but they are better than nothing, and, on Covid at least, certainly a more reliable guide than newspaper front pages. (Many newspapers suggest Britain is clamouring to end the lockdown, when in fact the survey evidence suggests the opposite is the case.)

And so there is good news for Boris Johnson this morning. There have been two snap polls about the roadmap for lifting lockdown in England he announced yesterday, and they both suggest that voters are in favour.

English people tend to think the path being set to a post-lockdown future is happening at about the right pace (46%). A quarter think such a timeline is too rapid (26%), while another 16% think it is too slow.

Most Conservative voters (54%), as well as 42% of Labour voters, agree with the pace the prime minister has set. Labour voters are more likely than their Tory counterparts to think that the plan is too quick (34% vs 18%), while Conservative voters are more likely to consider it too slow (20% vs 11%).

Related: Coronavirus live news: Fauci says political divide added to ‘stunning’ US deaths; Italy ‘misled’ WHO

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