Lockdown in England is expected to continue for at least an extra two weeks beyond June 21 as the government aims to buy time and vaccinate more people.
A new report in The Times states that Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Valance have delivered a “fairly grim” data briefing to ministers – prompting the cabinet to look at adjusting the roadmap.
A delay of a fortnight would leave the majority of over-50s fully vaccinated and ensure other groups have built up stronger resistance to the virus as jabs take effect.
The Times’ source told the paper: “We always said it was June 21 at the earliest. We may need another few weeks to let the effects of vaccination take hold. Doing a partial reopening would create confusion. People have planned on the basis of a full reopening. It’s important that the messaging is consistent.”
Sky News also reported over the weekend that “other options” were being drawn up as an alternative to removing all restrictions in England. These included retaining the use of face coverings, continuing work from home advice, or delaying the roadmap so the final step commences in July.
On Sunday (June 6), Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted the government was “absolutely open” to changing the lockdown lifting date if required.
Cases are rising again in England due to the Delta variant first found in India – which is thought to be around 40% more transmissible.
The 7-day moving average for cases is now above 5,000 – the highest rate since March.
Hospital admission rates, however, currently remain “broadly flat“.
An official decision on lifting lockdown is expected to be announced on June 14 – one week before the original unlocking date.
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