Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
CHANCELLOR Rishi Sunak may be ready to delay the final reopening of the UK by up to four weeks, a report said, amid speculation that the government is contemplating extending restrictions beyond June 21 due to a rise in Covid cases.
Although Sunak has in the past been regarded as more keen to lift lockdown constraints on June 21 than his fellow cabinet colleagues, The Guardian cited a Whitehall source saying that he is not fixated on the “June 21 date” and is more concerned that when restrictions are lifted, “freedoms are irreversible and businesses have clarity”.
Dubbed as ‘Freedom Day’, June 21 is set to see the end of all lockdown rules, meaning an end to mask-wearing and working from home guidance, nightclubs reopening and no limits on numbers at weddings, concerts and other large events.
However, the medical community has been calling on the government to push back the easing by two weeks or a month to ensure more vaccination amid the rising covid cases in the country.
Tuesday (8) saw about 6,000 new cases of Covid-19, with 126 people admitted to hospitals.
The latest figures also show that Covid infection rates are on the rise in most parts of England with Greater Manchester and Lancashire accounting for 90 per cent of the areas with the highest infection rates.
People living in these areas have been told to minimise travel and outside meetings as vaccines and testing have been stepped up to deal with rising daily cases and fear of the delta variant.
Burnley, South Ribble, Blackburn with Darwen, Stockport and Salford have been identified as the areas with the biggest week-on-week rise.
Meanwhile, NHS England reported a surge in demand for vaccines on Tuesday (8) morning as slots to book jabs were opened for people aged 25 to 29, with more than 1,600 jabs being booked every minute.
Experts feel that Sunak’s backing is expected to increase the chances of the government to push back the reopening by a few weeks which will also allow second vaccine doses for all over-50s to have been administered and taken effect before reopening. The delay will also coincide with the end of the school summer term.
The government has repeatedly said it will look carefully at the data before it comes to a final decision on June 14.