Johnson told Sky News that the Delta variant, first discovered in India, was a matter of “serious, serious concern” but that the success of the vaccination programme meant he would not need to implement more restrictions. “We’re seeing unquestionably not just cases but also hospitalisations going up. There’ll be arguments about the extent to which they’re going up, extent to which feeding into fatalities.” “Just to cheer you up a little bit, I would like to tell you that the scientists are agreed about one thing: they do not think there is any case for going reverse,” he said.
On Saturday, 7,738 new cases of Covid-19 were reported along with 12 deaths. The rapid spread of the Delta strain has thwarted the government’s hopes of a return to normality this month. Speaking to reporters at the G7 summit in Cornwall, Johnson said that vaccination was proving successful but more time was required before ending restrictions.
He said that his approach was to deliver an irreversible road map. “You’ve got to be cautious,” he said. The prime minister will meet senior ministers on Sunday to sign off on a delay to easing of restrictions, which is expected to be either two or four weeks.
Although Johnson has opted against a “mix and match” approach to easing restrictions, Ministers are considering plans to plans to allow larger weddings to go ahead. Those with knowledge of the proposals say they will mirror those in place for funerals. Indoor celebrations will be allowed up to each venue’s Covid-secure capacity, which means social distancing and masks would be required. The restrictions were initially due to be removed on June 21, but Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, has advised Johnson that a four-week delay to the final stage of the government’s lockdown easing plan was needed, stressing that a shorter delay would be insufficient to control the spread of the virus. Johnson is due to make an announcement on Monday.
The move to delay to the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England comes after the prime minister’s chief medical adviser pressed him to postpone the move following a surge in Covid-19 cases. “The objective now is to give that vaccination programme, that makes the impetus, the speed it needs to beat the spread of the virus.”
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