By: Pooja Shrivastava
Boris Johnson officially announced a four-week delay to the final lockdown easing during a press conference on Monday (14), saying more time is needed to combat the Delta variant and to allow more people to be vaccinated.
During a recently made announcement, Johnson slashed the interval between the first and second jabs from 12 weeks to eight for the over-40s, a step which has already been taken for older adults.
A No 10 spokesperson said it was confident there will be no need for further delay or for new restrictions. The delay to July 19 is born out by the modelling, which suggested hospitalisations could be reduced significantly by the additional vaccines.
Weddings will be given a limited reprieve as many couples were facing the prospect of cancelling their nuptials for a second year running. The cap of 30 guests will now be lifted for weddings and other life events such as funeral wakes but venues must stick with social distancing requirements and table service.
The delay will mean most hospitality venues must continue to operate at reduced capacity and indoor gatherings remain limited to six people or two households. High-risk venues like nightclubs must remain closed.
The announcement comes as daily reported Covid cases have risen to their highest level since the end of February, as the Delta variant continues to spread. A further 7,742 lab-confirmed cases were recorded on Monday (14), with three deaths.
Infections are up by 49 per cent in a week, with the Delta Covid variant – first identified in India – making up the vast majority of new cases.
Meanwhile, hospitalisations have also increased by 15 per cent in a week, putting pressure on Johnson to extend the restrictions.
New measures including surge testing and maximising vaccine uptake will be rolled out in Birmingham, Liverpool and Cheshire to tackle the Delta Covid variant, it has been announced. Anyone living in those areas is being urged not to travel.
The delta strain is said to have contributed to an increase in the number of new infections.