Following surge in coronavirus infections caused by its Delta variant, indications have emerged that Britain may delay full lifting of coronavirus restrictions scheduled for this month in line with ongoing phased easing of lockdown imposed to curb spread of the virus across the country.
Before the surge, Britain’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was expected to announce the government’s next step of its roadmap out of stay-at-home measures, after easing began in March.
With the development, the prime minister is expected to announce a delay at a news conference on Monday evening following information that senior ministers had agreed to postpone the lifting and that most current rules would stay in place until July 19.
It was gathered that Johnson and senior ministers agreed on a four-week delay after a briefing by scientific and health advisers and that the government was also keen to buy more time to vaccinate younger adults and possibly children
Johnson had last week gave his strongest hint that the final stage lifting of all social distancing requirements on June 21 — could be put on hold. The postponement comes as reported cases are at their highest since February.
He also during the weekend acknowledged that the spread of the virus was a matter of “serious, serious concern”.
The more transmissible Delta variant, first identified in India, is said to be now responsible for over 90 percent of cases, and positive tests have jumped 50 percent in the last week.
Also, Public Health England said that the Delta variant was 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant first identified in southeast England that forced the country to go into the last lockdown in January.
The restrictions apply to England only, as health policy is a devolved matter for the administrations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and they set their own policy.
England currently does not allow outside gatherings of more than 30 people or for more than two households to meet inside. The government had hoped to allow the reopening of nightclubs and “stand-up” drinking in pubs as well as lifting a limit of 30 guests at weddings. Also, businesses hard hit by the restrictions say their livelihoods depend on them being lifted.
Nevertheless, hospital admissions and deaths remain low as more than 40 percent of adults in the UK have had two vaccine jabs.