England’s lockdown exit has officially been delayed – with Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirming that national COVID measures will remain in place for at least an extra four weeks beyond June 21.
The government has made the decision to defer the final roadmap step due to rising infections across the country – with the average number of daily coronavirus cases at their highest rates since March.
Reports on Monday (June 14) revealed the PM was poised to delay unlocking – which he confirmed at an evening press conference hosted alongside Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance.
The PM said the decision was made so the NHS had extra time to “give crucial jabs into the arms who need them.”
“I think it’s sensible to wait just a little longer,” he added.
“Now is the time to ease off the accelerator. By being cautious now we have the chance to save lives.”
The new prospective date for England exiting lockdown is now July 19.
Until then, capacity limits in venues from pubs and restaurants to stadiums will continue – whilst nighttime businesses must stay closed.
Weddings and wakes, however, can once again proceed with more than 30 people – provided social distancing is adhered to.
A one-month delay to lifting remaining lockdown measures would apparently allow another 10 million second vaccine doses to be administered across the UK and build up further immunity in the population – with all adults over the age of 25 now eligible for jabs.
A more infectious ‘Delta’ variant has caused cases to rise sharply once again in Britain – with Greater Manchester suffering some of the highest rates so far.
An enhanced support package has since been rolled out across all ten boroughs in a bid to bring down infection rates.
Additional response teams, extra testing, military assistance and supervised in-school testing are all being introduced in the region.