One month delay to end of lockdown restrictions being considered 1 month ago

One month delay to end of lockdown restrictions being considered

It comes amid growing concern over the spread of the Delta variant.

The government is considering delaying the lifting of all remaining lockdown restrictions by a month, according to sources.

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The final stage of the government's roadmap out of lockdown is set to take place on 21 June and would see all legal limits on social contact removed and the opening of businesses such as nightclubs.

However there is increasing concern about the transmissibility of the Delta variant, the variant of the virus that was first detected in India. In recent days the number of recorded cases in England has been rising at a surprisingly high rate, and it is looking like hospitalisations may be following suit.

Sources told the BBC that a number of options are being considered though and that no final decision has been made yet regarding 21 June. On 14 June the government will announce its final decision on whether the final stage of easing restrictions will go ahead as planned.

However, the thinking is that delaying the final stage of the roadmap would allow the vaccination programme to take greater effect, particularly amongst younger age groups. A delay would also mean that the government and its scientific advisors would be able to work out the extent to which a rise in infections will translate into a rise in deaths.

Boris Johnson has faced increasing pressure from scientific advisors and medical experts to delay the 21 June date, with some suggesting that UK is experiencing a third wave of the virus.

On Friday, the Association of Directors of Public Health said that going ahead with the final stage of the roadmap would risk an increase in hospital admissions, and the British Medical Association (BMA) has now also backed a delay to the ending of social contact rules.

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The final stage would see nightclubs reopen, and an end to restrictions on performances, weddings and other life events.

The council chairman for the BMA Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: "It's not just about the number of hospitalisations, but also the risk to the health of large numbers of younger people, who can suffer long-term symptoms."

The delta variant is now the dominant strain of the virus in the UK, with nine in 10 cases thought to be this variant. It is roughly 60% more transmissible than the Kent variant (now known as the Alpha variant) that had previously been the main strain in the UK.

At the current rate of infection, the UK would be recording around 15,000 cases a day by 21 June.