Boris ‘to delay June 21 reopening until July 19’ after surge in Covid cases
Boris Johnson has been under pressure to push back freedom day amid a surge in Indian Covid cases
Boris Johnson will delay the full lifting of lockdown on June 21 by almost a month, according to government sources.
The PM is reportedly planning to push back ‘Freedom Day’ to July 19 amid a surge in cases of the Indian variant.
Under the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, it was hoped all restrictions could be lifted by June 21.
But multiple sources told The Sun the chances of this happening were close to zero after cases of the Indian strain tripled in a week.
Officials said they would rather delay the big day than be forced into a u-turn and have to reintroduce restrictions.
One source said: ‘The last thing they need is a hokey cokey of in out, in out of restrictions.
‘No one wants to go backwards, and we have to get this right first go.’
Under plans to be announced on Monday, a two-week review will be included meaning restrictions could be dropped on 5 July if hospitalisations stay down.
If not, the situation will be looked at again in two weeks time.
The delays will be used to work out if the vaccine rollout is stopping rising cases from translating into a surge in hospital admissions.
It will allow millions more people to be double jabbed and therefore better protected against the strain that first emerged in India.
The Delta variant, as it is also known, has a 60% increased risk of household transmission compared to the previously-dominant Kent strain.
Research suggests the latest variant more than doubles risk of hospitalisation.
However, patient numbers have grown at a much slower pace than cases – suggesting the vaccines are working to save lives and ward off serious illness.
More than half of the 42 deaths due to the Indian mutation were in unvaccinated Brits.
While one dose provides some protection, the vaccine has greater efficacy after two doses.
Downing Street has publicly insisted that no final decision has been made over the June 21 lockdown.
It was previously reported that the PM could take a mix and match approach, allowing big weddings to go ahead but keeping social distancing in place and night clubs shut.
Key figures told The Sun any chance of a full reopening going ahead in two weeks time are ‘hanging by a very, very, very thin thread’.
It comes after top doctors warned the PM to push back the plan to allow more people to get vaccinated.
The BMA said that even though hospitaliation numbers are low, cases are sreading among young people who are known to suffer worse from long Covid.
More to follow