Johnson to approve plans to delay lifting of lockdown
Boris Johnson is set to sign plans to delay the lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England amid growing concerns about the surge in the event of a highly transmissible Delta variant.
The Prime Minister is expected to agree to suspend the final easing of controls for up to four weeks when he meets with senior ministers and officials upon his return from the G7 summit in Cornwall on Sunday.
This could mean that the lifting of the lockdown – which was slated for June 21 as part of the government’s roadmap – will be postponed until July 19.
The move, which is expected to be confirmed in an official announcement on Monday, will be a blow to many companies, especially in the hospitality sector, which were basing their hopes on a full summer reopening.
Mr Johnson is also likely to face opposition from some of his own MPs who have been resenting the restrictions for months and will be furious at any further delay.
However, an Opinium poll found significant public support for a postponement, with 54% for and 37% against.
Scientists have called for more time to get more people vaccinated – especially those in younger age groups – before controls are relaxed.
Studies have shown that people who received only one dose of the vaccine have significantly less protection against the Delta variant – first identified in India – than those who received two injections.
Public health officials believe a delay would also provide more opportunities to control the spread using surge testing techniques that have proven effective in Bolton, which was the Delta variant’s first hotspot.
Speaking in Cornwall on Saturday, a pessimist, Mr Johnson, acknowledged that the rise of the variant was a matter of “serious and serious concern”.
With the increase in infections and hospital admissions, he said it was not yet clear to what extent this would translate into more deaths.
However, in order to ensure that the final lifting of the lockdown is “irreversible”, he said it may be necessary to give vaccines “extra legs” in the race against the virus.
However, some ministers were reportedly even more pessimistic, with one telling the Sunday Telegraph that they had a “very short window” to open, otherwise controls may have to remain in place until spring of next year.
“I am very worried that the people who want to keep us closed now want us to stop for good and aim for ‘zero Covid’,” the anonymous minister said.
“Once you start delaying spring, you make that kind of control over people’s lives semi-permanent. “
Scientists now estimate that 96% of all new coronavirus cases are attributed to the Delta variant.
The latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) show there have been 42,323 confirmed Delta variant cases in the UK, up 29,892 from the previous week.
He estimates the strain is 60% more transmissible compared to the previously dominant Alpha, or Kent, variant, and cases are doubling every four and a half days in parts of England.
Meanwhile, it emerged that G7 leaders discussed the theory that the pandemic was caused by a leak from a Chinese laboratory.
A team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and China concluded that it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus entered the human population as a result of a laboratory-related incident. Wuhan Institute of Virology.
However, US President Joe Biden has since ordered an investigation into the origins of the outbreak, including the leak theory, while the WHO has said it wants to do more work.
WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at the summit: “We believe all hypotheses need to be open and we need to move on to the second phase to really know the origins.”