Covid: Lockdown easing in England to be delayed by four weeks

Health / Mon 14th Jun 2021 at 06:15am

SENIOR ministers have signed off a decision to delay the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions in England beyond 21 June reports the BBC.

Government sources have told the BBC most current rules will remain for another four weeks after this date.

It means nightclubs will stay closed and people will be encouraged to still work from home where possible.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to confirm the delay later at a press conference.

The extension will be put to a Commons vote this month and could trigger a sizeable Conservative backbench rebellion.

Stage four of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown would see all legal limits on social contact removed.

But many scientists have called for the reopening to be delayed to enable more people to be vaccinated and receive second doses amid rising cases of the Delta variant.

A delay would also allow for more work to be done on whether vaccines are breaking, or simply weakening, the link between infections and hospitalisations.

On Sunday Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a final decision on whether the reopening should be paused had not yet been taken.

Former Conservative cabinet minister Damian Green told the BBC’s Westminster Hour that he wanted to see the decision to delay reviewed as more data becomes available.

“I think if it is as long as a month then there should be a break clause after two or maybe three weeks, to say that if we can tell by then that the rise in cases is not leading to a sort of rise in the serious illness that sends people into hospital, then we can unlock earlier,” he said. 

On Sunday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the government “don’t want to yo-yo in and out of measures”.

He said the decision on postponing unlocking would depend on whether the link between infections and hospital admissions had been severed. 

Under stage four of the roadmap, venues and events would be allowed to operate without capacity limits and the cap on guests at weddings would also be lifted. 

Even if these restrictions are removed, rules on face coverings and social distancing could remain in place.

The prime minister has previously said the government must be cautious so any easing of restrictions is irreversible.

Rising infections in the UK are being driven by the Delta variant, first identified in India, which now accounts for 90% of infections. 

It is believed to be around 60% more infectious than the Alpha variant – which was first identified in Kent and was previously dominant in the UK – and twice as likely to result in infected people being hospitalised. 

Prof Andrew Hayward from University College London, who is a member of the Sage group which advises the government, said easing more restrictions would “fan the flames” of rising infections. 

On Sunday, the UK recorded 7,490 new cases of Covid-19 and eight deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

The seven-day average for cases in the UK is up 49% compared with the seven days before. 

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