June 21 Freedom Day 'could be delayed by a month so more people can have second jab' amid fears of Indian variant spread

THE June 21 'Freedom Day' end to Covid restrictions may be delayed for a month so Brits can receive two vaccinations, it's reported.

A final end to England's restrictions may be pushed back by between two to four weeks to give businesses "certainty", The Times reports.

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The delay is being considered amid a rise in cases from the Indian – or Delta – variant of the virus.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed yesterday the variant now makes up 91 per cent of all UK cases.

The government is monitoring if its spread leads to a further surge in hospitalisations and infections.

Ministers fear a two-week postponement of the June 21 date may have to be extended.

'ONE-WAY TICKET'

But a four-week delay would allow more people to be double jabbed and give them better protection from the Indian variant.

A source told The Times: "This is about giving people certainty.

“The worst-case scenario is that we ease restrictions and then have to implement them again.

"This has to be a one-way ticket."

Boris Johnson is set to announce his decision on the June 21 unlocking on Monday.

 


Some government scientific advisers insist delaying by a month would give the vaccine a chance to catch up with the Indian variant.

The Delta variant is feared to be up to 60 per cent more transmissible than the Kent – or Alpha – variant.

But a cabinet source told The Times they believed a two-week delay was enough.

They said: "By June 21 everyone over 50 who wants a second jab should have had one.

The worst-case scenario is that we ease restrictions and then have to implement them again.

“You just have to wait another couple of weeks so that they all have full antibody protection.

"At that point you really have protected the vulnerable.

“Of course there are businesses that want us to stick with June 21 but when Rishi [Sunak, the chancellor] is letting it be known he’d be happy with a delay you know the argument is already over.”

Another 7,393 Covid cases were reported in Britain yesterday, with the rolling average up by 63 per cent week on week.

It was the second day in a row cases rose above 7,000.

And there were another 147 hospital admissions in England, up from 115 the week before.


The virus is spreading more rapidly among unvaccinated younger Brits, with those in their 20s showing infection rates 18 times higher than people in their 80s.

Mr Johnson is set to wait until Sunday to decide on whether restrictions will be lifted on June 21.

But a full reopening a week on Monday was "unlikely",The Times source said.

It had been reported that the PM may adopt a "mix and match approach" to ending lockdown on June 21 by "partially lifting" restrictions.

But he is now likely to reject that plan over concerns it would be confusing.

Meanwhile, the 30-person limit on weddings is set to be lifted even if the June 21 easing of lockdown is delayed, it's reported.

The possible delay to the June 21 date follows a "downbeat" briefing from government advisers on the threat of the Indian variant.

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance reportedly produced "fairly grim" data on the variant.

The Indian variant has meant surge testing and increased vaccine capacity have been rolled out.

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