| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Lifting Covid lockdown could be delayed by one month in England

The UK government is studying to delay lifting Covid restrictions by up to four weeks, sources have told the BBC.

The final stage of lifting lockdown was planned on June 21, but would see all legal limits on social contact removed. This decision comes amid growing concern over rapidly increasing cases and the higher transmissibility of the Delta variant.

Downing Street sources emphasized that no final decision has been made yet. The final announcement is scheduled for Monday, but a Whitehall source said a number of options were being considered and the four-week delay was currently the main one.

Pushing the date back would allow the vaccination program to take greater effect, as the rollout moves through to younger age groups.

The last stage of ending lockdown in England would see nightclubs reopen, and an end to restrictions on performances, weddings and other life events.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced increasing pressure to push back the 21 June date in recent days. The British Medical Association has joined public health officials in calling for a delay.

BMA council chairman 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.”

Following reports in the Times that some restrictions, such as the 30-person limit on weddings, could still be eased on 21 June, sources said various options are being considered.