Covid in Leeds: What does four-week restriction easing delay from June 21 to July 19 mean? - rules in full
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a four-week delay to ending Covid restrictions at a Downing Street press conference this evening (Monday).
Boris Johnson has been forced to delay the end of England’s coronavirus restrictions after being warned the move could lead to thousands of deaths and unbearable pressure on the NHS.
The Prime Minister announced the setback to the final phase of his plan to end the lockdown due to concerns over the rapidly spreading Delta variant first identified in India.
Experts feared going ahead with Step 4 on June 21 as planned could lead to hospital admissions on the scale of the first wave of Covid-19 heaping unsustainable pressure on the health service.
When will restrictions ease fully?
Mr Johnson said during a Downing Street press conference that it is “sensible” to put back the end of all legal limits on social contact to July 19, saying he is “confident” no further delay will be necessary.
Downing Street left open the option of ending restrictions on July 5 if the data proves drastically better than expected but conceded this is “unlikely”.
Mr Johnson hopes deaths will be significantly reduced by that point because two-thirds of adults will have then been offered both vaccine doses due to the delay being coupled with a reduction in the time between jabs for the over-40s.
He said: “It’s unmistakably clear that vaccines are working and the sheer scale of the vaccine roll-out has made our position incomparably better than in previous waves.
“But now is the time to ease off the accelerator because by being cautious now we have the chance in the next four weeks to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.”
Why has there been a delay?
Mr Johnson felt he had to delay the relaxation after at least one of his four tests to easing restrictions – that the risks are not fundamentally changed by new variants – had been failed.
Officials also called into question the test to ensure infection rates do not lead to a surge in hospital admissions that could put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
Modelling by the Government’s Spi-M group suggested there was a possibility of hospital admissions reaching the heights of the first peak in March 2020 if the relaxation went ahead on Monday.
Experts believe the Delta variant is driving a rapid accelerations in cases, estimating it is between 40 per cent and 80 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant first found in Kent.
What are the rules?
Limits on numbers for sports events, pubs and cinemas will remain in place.
Nightclubs will stay shuttered.
People will be asked to continue working from home where possible.
The 30-person cap for wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as wakes, will be lifted, with limits to be set by venues based on social distancing requirements.
Care home residents will no longer need to self-isolate for 14 days after leaving for visits in most cases.
Fans are expected to be able to attend the Euro 2020 semi-finals and final in Wembley as the pilots on attendance of large events continue.
When can I get my vaccine?
The target of offering jabs to all adults by the end of July has been brought forward to July 19.
Those over the age of 23 in England will be able to book their jab from tomorrow (Tuesday).
The Prime Minister has announced that all over-40s should have their second jab eight weeks after the first.