Live updates: Boris Johnson asked whether people can meet outside their households in pub garden; backlash from council leaders in north east England over new restrictions

Boris Johnson is due to hold a press conference tomorrow with Prof Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, and Sir Patrick Vallance, its chief scientific adviser, No 10 has just announced.

Asked if he was suffering from long Covid, Johnson said that he was fitter than he was before and as “fit as a butcher’s dog”. He said what had made the difference was losing weight.

Here is some comment from journalists on Boris Johnson’s failure to give a clear answer to the question about what the new restrictions in the north east mean. (See 11.57am.)

No one seems entirely clear yet as to whether what he did say about the rules was right or wrong – but that’s partly because it was not very clear what he was saying.

PM seems unsure about his own rules on where people can meet in NE: “As I understand it…” Didn’t he invent these rules?

Andy Bell asks PM to clarify the new(ish) Covid rules. What follows is an answer which does not answer the Q and is so confusing I am going to have to rewind it in an attempt to understand.

Boris Johnson just fumbled over what the rules are in the North East… checking exactly what he said. Not 100% it was right, but TBC – checking.

Andy Bell from Channel 5 just asked Boris Johnson to clarify whether different households can meet in pub gardens in the North-east and it appeared – from the ensuing waffle – that the PM doesn’t know either

Erk. Boris Johnson also appears totally confused by question about whether people in the North East can meet outside in beer gardens. Talks about Rule of Six *elsewhere* and says locals should follow the guidance. “As I understand it not six outside”. What?

Q: In the north east can people meet people from outside their household in a pub garden? People find these rules confusing.

Johnson says the rule of six means you can only meet six people, inside or outside.

He repeats the point about how people need to look at the guidance in areas where local lockdown rules apply.

Q: The migration advisory committee says we need more care workers, and more workers in other sectors. (See 11.31am.) Do we need more foreign workers?

Johnson says over many years we have been able to attract lots of talented people from around the world.

He says he remains open to the UK being a beacon for “scientific geniuses” and other talented people who want to work here.

Johnson says that is a matter for students and universities. He hopes students will continue to get value from their education.

Q: Unemployment is going up. People need help now. Why are you saying people have to wait until next April? And you say not all jobs are viable. Does that mean you think the retail sector won’t recover?

Johnson says he wants to close the gap with other countries that “thought they had the edge on us” in skills and vocation training.

He says he wants to end the “snooty” and “vacuous” distinction between vocational and non-vocational training.

Johnson says that from next April adults without an A-level will be able to get a free college course.

Adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course – providing them with skills valued by employers, and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them.

This offer will be available from April in England, and will be paid for through the National Skills Fund. A full list of available courses will be set out shortly.

Higher-education loans will also be made more flexible, allowing adults and young people to space out their study across their lifetimes, take more high quality vocational courses in further education colleges and universities, and to support people to retrain for jobs of the future.

These reforms will be backed by continued investment in college buildings and facilities – including over £1.5bn in capital funding. More details will be set out in a further education white paper later this year.

Johnson says a huge number of people are going to have to change jobs, and change skills, over the next decade.

Boot camps are employer-led, short, flexible training courses for adults, linked to guaranteed interviews and tailored to meet business and economic demand across the country. The first phase of boot camps will start over the next few weeks in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Liverpool with digital courses such as cloud services, full stack, digital for advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity. Some of these courses will be aimed at specific groups such as a Women in Tech course.

The second phase of boot camps will be trialled in West Yorkshire, the South West and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Johnson says at the moment people feel they have only one chance for post-18 education. So they opt for a degree.

In future, he says, he would like people to think they can do a one-year course – because the option of doing a degree will be available later.

He says he wants to “end this bogus distinction between FE [further education] and HE [higher education].

And he says eventually wants to ensure every students gets access to four years of post-18 education.

Johnson says not every college is an excellent as the one he is speaking at, Exeter College.

He says he is not criticising universities. He loves universities. But many students are leaving university and going into non-graduate jobs, he says.

He says we have too many graduates with skills that won’t get them a job, and too few people with the skills for the jobs available.

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News – UK coronavirus news: PM unable to clarify details of how new lockdown rules work in north east England