Final easing of England’s Covid curbs to be delayed by a month

Lifting of the remaining restrictions in England will be delayed by a month, a media report said on Monday, adding that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will give the details of the postponement at a press briefing later in the day.

According to the BBC report, Johnson will be joined by Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty and the UK government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance at the briefing scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. (local time).

The final easing of the restrictions was initially planned for June 21.

This final easing would lift the limit on how many people a person can invite to his/her home;

pubs, clubs, theatres and cinemas allowed to operate without capacity limits; sports events to able to take place in full stadiums; reopening of nightclubs; and an end to curbs on guests for weddings and other life events, the BBC said.

In other parts of the UK however, differ on their reopening schedules.

In Northern Ireland, June 21 is the “indicative date” for a number of changes subject to a review on June 17.

While lockdown measures in Wales will be reviewed on June 21, the entire Scotland is slated to move to level zero, the lowest level of restrictions, on June 28.

Monday’s development comes as the government has been under increasing pressure to delay the final step of unlocking the restrictions in England due to concerns over the spread of the Delta variant, which has become the “dominant” strain in the UK.

As part of the roadmap, pubs, bars and restaurants in England were permitted to open indoors, while indoor entertainment resumed, including cinemas, museums and children’s play areas, from May 17 onwards.

People were also allowed to travel abroad to a number of “green-list” countries without having to quarantine upon return as the ban on foreign travel has also been lifted.

In its latest update, Public Health England (PHE) said the Delta variant now accounts for nine in 10 coronavirus cases in the UK.

It is roughly 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha, or Kent, variant, it added.

As of Monday, the UK’s overall Covid infection tally and death toll stood at 4,581,779 and 128,168, respectively.

Till date more than 29 million people in the UK have been administered both the doses of a Covid vaccine or 55.4 per cent of the country’s total adult population.