The final relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown has been postponed until next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed.
This means that step four of the government’s roadmap to relax the rules will not go ahead next Monday, June 21, amid concerns over the Delta variant of Covid-19.
Two of the four government tests failed – these are the tests on variants that change risks; and the risk of “an increase in hospital stays that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS”.
Mr Johnson confirmed the delay in a Press conference on Downing Street tonight.
The Prime Minister said the government was facing a “very difficult decision” but “now is the time to take it easy”.
As a result, hospital stays could be kept low and millions more people could be vaccinated, he said.
However, as of June 21, the 30 person limit for weddings will be lifted in England. This means that there is no limit to the number of receptions or ceremonies – indoors or outdoors.
And the 30 person limit for other memorial services, including wake, will be lifted in England from June 21st.
The rules for visits outside of nursing homes will also be relaxed in England from June 21st, despite the delay in other areas.
There are no changes to indoor hospitality rules or changes to hold large events without social distancing in a blanket.
The laws on wearing masks in shops and on public transport will not be repealed as of June 21, and the advice to work from home whenever possible would continue to apply.
Despite the four-week delay, there are no changes to the vacation policy or other economic support.
England could suffer as dire a wave of hospital cases as the first wave last April if step four were carried out on June 21, government advisors believe.
Modeling by the government’s Spi-M group suggested that there is a possibility that hospital admissions could hit the first peak in March 2020 if easing continues on Monday.
At the height of the first wave, more than 3,000 new UK patients were being enrolled every day – compared with fewer than 200 per day.
Nationwide there are around 8,000 new cases per day, the highest level since February.
Experts believe that the Delta variant causes rapid acceleration in cases and estimate that it is between 40% and 80% more transferable than the Alpha variant, which was first found in Kent.
The extension will give more time to stab people. The government officially brought forward its July 31 target of offering a first dose of vaccine to all over 18s in England.
Instead, all adults should now be offered a first dose of the vaccine by July 19 – the new date step four should come into force.
At the same time, the ministers have set a new goal of offering a second dose to all eligible people over 40 in England by 19 July at the latest.
To achieve this, all those over 40 are now offered their second dose eight weeks after the first – not the previous 12 weeks.
There will be a two-week delay review on June 28th. The transition to step four will not be confirmed until July 12th.
There will be a parliamentary debate and vote on the extension of the level 3 regulations.
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