EVERY part of “the Union” should “move as one” out of Covid restrictions if conditions allow, a UK Government minister has said.

Robert Jenrick, Boris Johnson’s Communities Secretary, told The Andrew Marr Show that’s Westminster’s preferred position ahead of July 19, when all legal coronavirus rules are expected to be lifted in England.

Dubbed “freedom day”, it’s expected that masks will then become voluntary in public places, with the one metre-plus social distancing rule dropped and house parties once again allowed.

But doctors have warned that face masks will still be needed beyond this month with the British Medical Association (BMA) calling a rise in infections “alarming”.

According to official figures, weekly coronavirus cases in the UK are up 74% on the previous seven days. On Friday, 27,125 new positive cases were recorded across the nations, along with another 27 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

The BMA says there’s been a 55% rise in the number of patients admitted to English hospitals in England with Covid-19 over the past week and in Scotland 3108 positive cases were confirmed on Saturday alone, when news of another three deaths emerged. Data from the Office for National Statistics puts Scotland at the highest Covid rate in the UK last week. Around one in every 150 people – 35,900 individuals – was thought to have the virus.

On Johnson’s plan, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “It makes no sense to remove restrictions in their entirety in just over two weeks’ time.

“The promise was to make decisions based on data and not dates, and while we were pleased to see the government react to data in delaying the easing on June 21 last month, ministers must not now simply disregard the most recent, damning numbers by rushing into meeting their new July 19 deadline.”

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Yesterday, Jenrick said he hoped all UK nations would lift restrictions at the same time, but acknowledged the situation varies across countries.

He said: “We would like the whole of the Union to move as one. We are going to work with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to try and be as co-ordinated as possible.

“Cases are slightly different in each of the four nations but certainly in England, our view is that things are looking positive for July 19.”

He acknowledged that the shift may see cases rise significantly.  But he said: “We now have to move into a different period where we learn to live with the virus, we take precautions and we as individuals take personal responsibility.”

Jenrick said the Government is “still looking at the data” in terms of allowing those who have been fully vaccinated to be able to holiday quarantine-free in countries on the amber list for international travel.

He added: “It is our objective, yes, that those who are double vaccinated should be able to travel to amber list countries as soon as possible, including for holidays.”

Meanwhile, the number of new coronavirus cases in Scotland continues to drop, falling to below 3000 for the first time in a week. Covid-19 statistics revealed yesterday that there were 2726 new infections identified in the previous 24 hours, 11.4% of the total number of tests.

No further deaths were recorded, although registration offices tend to be closed at weekends. A total of 25,996 vaccinations – 13,213 first doses and 12,783 second doses – were also administered on Saturday.

It is 1369 more than were carried out on Friday, when the figure was at a 10-week low.

NHS Scotland figures showed there were 316 patients in hospital with recently confirmed infections on Saturday evening – an increase of 10 – while the number in intensive care remained at 25.