The government has decided to delay the final easing of Covid restrictions in England beyond 21 June, putting a halt to the return to the office.
Boris Johnson will announce the postponement in a press conference to be held at 6pm today, flanked by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty.
Senior ministers have signed off on a decision to keep most of the current rules in place for another four weeks after this date, sources told the BBC.
The delay means people will still be encouraged to work from home where possible, while nightclubs will remain shut and attendance at events will be capped.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to confirm the move at a press conference later today.
The extension to current rules will be put to a Commons vote this month and could face a significant Conservative backbench rebellion.
The fourth stage of lockdown easing will see all limits on social contact removed, though mask wearing and social distancing could still remain in place.
But scientists and medical groups have called for the step to be delayed due to the rapid spread of the more transmissible Delta variant.
They said a delay would allow more people to get vaccinated and reduce the risk of a spike in hospitaliations.
But the plans have sparked anger among some MPs and business leaders, who have cited the UK’s rapid vaccination rollout.
More than 70m doses have now been administered across the UK, with 55 per cent of people receiving both jabs.
The decision to push back the lifting or restrictions will come as a blow to the hospitality sector, which has warned continued social distancing measures will hamper sales.
It will also hit the UK’s ailing nightlife sector, with nightclubs remaining shuttered and theatres unable to hold performances at full capacity.
This week it emerged theatre bosses are on the brink of striking a deal for a government-backed insurance scheme to enable performances to go ahead.