Boris Johnson hints at delay to lifting England lockdown on 21 June
Boris Johnson has given his strongest hint yet that there will be a delay to the planned lifting of England restrictions on 21 June.
Johnson said today that “we’re seeing unquestionably not just cases but also hospitalisations going up” and that “you’ve got to be cautious”, after reports yesterday that the unlocking date could be delayed to 19 July.
His comments are a stark reversal of his comments just a week ago that there is “nothing in the data” to suggest extending lockdown.
Speaking to ITV today, the Prime Minsiter said: “We’re setting out the position on Monday, but what I can certainly tell you is that to deliver an irreversible roadmap you’ve got to be cautious.”
“We’re still looking at the data, we’re seeing unquestionably not just cases but also hospitalisations going up. There will be arguments about the extent to which they’re going up, the extent to which that is feeding into fatalities. But in order to deliver an irreversible roadmap, you’ve got to be cautious.”
It comes after The Sun revealed yesterday that Whitehall were preparing plans to delay the lifting of lockdown for up to four weeks, with multiple sources saying there was almost zero chance of 21 June going ahead as planned.
Public Health England data revealed yesterday that there had been 42,000 UK cases of the more transmissible Delta Indian variant so far – a 240 per cent increase since a week ago.
The new data also showed that 90 per cent of Covid cases are of the Delta variant, which PHE data suggests is 64 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant.
The seven-day rate of total cases has risen by 60 per cent in the past week, while hospitalisations have risen by 14 per cent.
The delay to shedding Covid restrictions will mean that plans to increase crowd sizes at Wembley for the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 may be at risk.
The stadium will have 22,500 fans for the group games, with this figure planned to rise to 45,000 for the semi-finals and final.
The rule of six for indoor hospitality will also remain in place beyond 21 June, meaning plans to bring back large-scale indoor events will be scrapped.
The Financial Times reports government advisers are pushing for a four-week lockdown as this would substantially increase the number of people who have had two vaccines.
“They can predict how many in different age groups will get vaccinated and the modelling shows that after four weeks it has a major impact on positive cases,” said one official.