Rising numbers of coronavirus cases and the advent of the new, more transmissible Delta variant have put the final phase of the lockdown easing in England at risk.
Here we look at what could happen if step 4 of the government roadmap is delayed.
What should happen on so-called Freedom Day?
According to the government’s roadmap out of the lockdown, Step 4 – scheduled to take place on June 21 – would lift all legal restrictions on social contacts.
Hopefully the last handful of closed indoor venues, including nightclubs, will reopen and remove the restrictions on major events and performances.
Why can there be delays?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the advent of the Indian variant – also known as the Delta variant and being 40% more transmissible than the Kent tribe – made the “calculation” of whether to proceed with the unlock “more difficult”.
Scientists have also suggested that the steadily increasing number of people in hospitals should also delay the final stages of easing restrictions.
Downing Street said the data emerging next week will be “crucial” in deciding whether the remaining restrictions can be lifted.
So what could happen now?
Boris Johnson has been reported to be considering postponing Freedom Day for at least two weeks so that more people can be fully vaccinated against the Delta variant.
Mr Hancock also indicated that some measures could stay in place after June 21st.
This could include continuing to work from home, social distancing in bars and restaurants, and wearing masks.
And what can’t happen?
If the government decides not to continue with Step 4 of the roadmap, some indoor venues such as nightclubs will not be allowed to reopen as planned.
The audience restrictions in theaters and cinemas can also remain in place.
How could this affect businesses?
Hospitality leaders have warned that delaying Freedom Day would bring many troubled businesses “closer to the cliff edge.”
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, said, “The ongoing uncertainty surrounding the roadmap is creating significant difficulties for hospitality companies and operators.
“It is critical that the government commit to lifting restrictions on June 21st. Any delay in the schedule would have a devastating effect on an already vulnerable sector. “
What is currently allowed?
The government pushed ahead with step 3 of the roadmap on May 17, which means that most of the legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors have been lifted.
People are also allowed to meet indoors, although the rule of six or two households still applies.
Indoor food returned to restaurants and customers no longer need to purchase large meals with alcoholic beverages or stick to a curfew.
Gyms were reopened and certain major indoor performances and sporting events were allowed to resume.
Up to 30 people can attend weddings, receptions and wake and funerals.
And what about the other British nations?
From Monday, groups of up to 30 people can meet outdoors in Wales, including in private gardens, while up to three households can meet indoors.
The Welsh government has not yet announced a date for major venues to reopen with live performances or for events such as outdoor music festivals.
Plans to relax lockdown restrictions across much of Scotland have been suspended, but rules in Glasgow, which stayed at level 3 longer, were relaxed on Saturday.
Restaurants, cafes, bars and other eateries in Northern Ireland can operate indoors, with six people from unlimited households being allowed to sit together with table service only.