Recap: Boris Johnson confirms June 21 lockdown restrictions lifting delayed by four weeks

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed step four of the road map to easing lockdown will be delayed by four weeks.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 7:11 pm

The PM announced the planned lifting of restrictions will be delayed by four weeks during a coronavirus press briefing from Downing Street on Monday, June 14.

He was joined by England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and the Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance.

Mr Johnson said it is “sensible” to put back the end of all legal limits on social contact to July 19, saying he is “confident” no further delay will be necessary.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street on Monday, April 5. Picture: PA Video/PA Wire

He hopes deaths will be significantly reduced by that point because two-thirds of adults will have then been offered both vaccine doses due to the delay being coupled with a reduction in the time between jabs for the over-40s.

The lifting of lockdown restrictions was set to take place on 21 June, putting an end to all legal limits on social contact.

The delay means limits on numbers for sports events, pubs and cinemas will remain in place, nightclubs will stay shuttered and people will be asked to continue working from home where possible.

However, the 30-person cap for wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as wakes, will be lifted from June 21 with limits to be set by venues based on social distancing requirements.

Downing Street left open the option of ending restrictions on July 5 if the data proves drastically better than expected but conceded this is “unlikely”.

The delay comes after a rise in infections in the UK driven by the Delta variant, first identified in India.

Scroll down to catch up with our live coverage.

Live updates as lockdown easing set to be delayed

Last updated: Monday, 14 June, 2021, 18:53

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the easing of lockdown will be delayed by four weeks
  • It comes amid rising Covid-19 infections, driven by the Delta variant
  • The 30-person cap for wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as wakes, will be lifted from June 21

How many jabs have been given in England?

More than 60 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered in England, according to NHS England data released on Monday.

Figures showed a total of 60,243,055 Covid-19 vaccinations took place in England between December 8 and June 13, including first and second doses. It’s a rise of 277,315 on the previous day.

NHS England said 34,851,139 were first doses, a rise of 123,866 on the previous day, while 25,391,916 were second doses, an increase of 153,449.

Labour leader has criticised the Government for hotel quarantine delays

Sir Keir Starmer has blamed the Government’s “pathetic” border policy for a delay to lockdown easing that is widely predicted to be announced later.

The Labour leader made the comments in response to threats from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber to open his theatres to a full house on June 21 regardless of lockdown rules.

Speaking to LBC, Sir Keir said: “June 21 was supposed to be ‘Freedom Day’, and why are we not going to hit it? It looks like we’re not because of the Government’s pathetic borders policy.”

Sir Keir criticised the Government for delays to introducing hotel quarantine, the confusing traffic light system for foreign travel, and the decision to delay putting India on the red list until late April.

“The net result of (the Prime Minister’s) pathetic approach is that we’re going to have four weeks more of this.”

When pressed on Lord Lloyd Webber’s claims he is ready to be arrested, Sir Keir said: “I have to tell him to obey the rules and obey the law, of course I do. But I do understand the frustration.”

Further 7,742 Covid-19 cases confirmed in the UK

The Government said a further three people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the UK total to 127,907.

Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 153,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The Government also said that, as of 9am on Monday, there had been a further 7,742 lab-confirmed cases in the UK

MPs need to know first, says Speaker

Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle has told MPs he thinks it is “totally unacceptable” that the Government will be holding a press conference this evening on expected changes to the Covid road map timetable before telling the House of Commons.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to answer questions in the chamber at 8.30pm and Sir Lindsay said: “Can I just say, we weren’t going to get a statement until I got involved with Downing Street.

“The fact is this has been forced to actually get a statement today, it was going to be left to tomorrow which would have been totally unacceptable.

“This House needs to know, it needs to know first.

“I find it totally unacceptable that once again, once again, that we see Downing Street running roughshod over members of Parliament.

“We’re not accepting it and I’m at the stage where I’m beginning to look for other avenues if they’re not going to treat this house seriously.”

Downing Street briefing begins

The Prime Minister has started speaking at the Downing Street press conference. He is joined by Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.

Lockdown easing delayed

The Prime Minister has confirmed that the easing of lockdown will be delayed .

Weddings can still go ahead with more than 30 guests, provided social distancing measures are observed.

The PM added the situation will be monitored, with earlier reopening possible.

All four steps for easing lockdown not met, PM says

The PM has told the Downing Street press conference that the spread of the Delta variant meant “we have obviously faced a very difficult choice”.

“We can simply keep going with all of Step 4 on June 21, even though there is a real possibility that the virus will outrun the vaccines and that thousands more deaths would ensue which could otherwise have been avoided.

“Or else we can give the NHS a few more crucial weeks to get those remaining jabs into the arms of those who need them.

“And since today I cannot say that that we have met all our four tests for proceeding with Step 4 on June 21, I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer.”

Whitty: Increase in the new variant is occurring across the whole country

Professor Chris Whitty has said that cases of the Delta variant, first identified in India, have been rising across England.

Every adult to be offered a dose of the jab by July 19

Boris Johnson said by July 19 around two-thirds of the adult population would have received two jabs, including all over-50s, the vulnerable and health and care workers, along with over-40s who had received a first dose by mid-May.

“To do this we will now accelerate the second jabs for those over 40, just as we did for the vulnerable groups, so they get the maximum protection as fast as possible.

“We will bring forward our target to give every adult in this country a first dose by July 19.”

PM ‘confident’ restrictions won’t go beyond July 19

Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “We will monitor the position every day and if, after two weeks, we have concluded that the risk has diminished then we reserve the possibility of proceeding to step four, and a full opening, sooner.”

He said he is “confident” that no more than four weeks will be needed and that restrictions will not go beyond July 19.

“It’s unmistakably clear the vaccines are working and the sheer scale of the vaccine roll-out has made our position incomparably better than in previous waves,” he said.

“But now is the time to ease off the accelerator, because by being cautious now we have the chance in the next four weeks to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.”

Delay to give the NHS ‘extra time’

Boris Johnson said he was announcing the delay to “give the NHS that extra time”.

But the Prime Minister told a Downing Street press conference weddings would be able to go ahead with more than 30 guests – provided social distancing was in place.

The same provisions would apply to wakes, he said.

“We will continue to pilot events such as Euro 2020 and some theatrical performances,” he said, indicating they will be allowed larger crowds than under the restrictions currently in place elsewhere as part of the research programme.

Could testing and vaccination status be used to open up weddings?

A bride-to-be, who has had to postpone her wedding twice, asked the Prime Minister why testing and vaccination status cannot be used to open up weddings in the same way it is being used for football matches.

She said it feels like weddings are “bottom of the priority list despite being significant life events without which some people cannot progress with their lives”.

Mr Johnson said: “I’m very, very sorry to hear about your wedding plans being postponed twice. Indeed obviously I’m sorry for all the disappointment that’s going to be caused by going a bit slower as we are today.”

He said weddings can go ahead with more than 30 people from June 21 providing social distancing is observed.

“All I can say is I’m sorry for the disappointment that this will certainly bring to weddings, to many, many businesses, but it’s a few weeks that I think is worth it to get those jabs in,” he said.

New variant not ruled out

Boris Johnson warned there was always the possibility of a new variant derailing the process.

“At a certain stage, we are going to have to learn to live with the virus and to manage it as best we can,” he said.

“What we are trying to do now, by this delay, is to reduce the current surge and we think we can do that – we think a two-week delay would make a substantial difference and a four-week delay would make even more of a difference in reducing the overall number of deaths.”

By July 19 there will be a “very considerable wall of immunity around the whole of the population”.

“At that stage, on the basis of the evidence that I can see now, I’m confident that we will be able to go forward with the full Step 4, the full opening.”

But he added: “That, of course, does not exclude the possibility – I’m afraid, and we have got to be honest about this – the possibility that there is some new variant that is far more dangerous, that kills people in a way that we currently cannot foresee or understand.”

People may want to continue social distancing after July 19, PM suggests

Boris Johnson suggested people may wish to continue social distancing after July 19.

The Prime Minister said: “People may want to keep maintaining social distancing, they may want to keep being sensible.

“But as far as I can see we will be in a much better position as a country to go forward with the full opening up that we envisage.”

Giving over-18s a single dose by July 19 would reduce spread

Sir Patrick Vallance suggested giving over-18s a single dose by July 19 would reduce spread.

“The single dose will put up another barrier to spread amongst the age group most likely to spread because they have more social contact,” the chief scientific adviser said.

The combination of jabs for the over-18s and two doses for the over-40s would offer a level of “double protection that should be in place over the next few weeks”.

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