The easing of lockdown restrictions across England is expected to be delayed for four weeks, a Government source has claimed.

Sky News has reported that Ministers are expected to push back Freedom Day, initially set to be June 21, by a number of weeks.

The last remaining Covid restrictions had been planned to be lifted later this month as part of the Government's road map.

It's believed concerns over the rapidly-spreading delta variant will push Freedom Day until middle of July.

A senior source said "it is one last heave" and "it is a straight race between the vaccine and the virus".

The final lockdown restrictions are expected to be delayed, a Govt source has claimed
The final lockdown restrictions are expected to be delayed, a Govt source has claimed

It's said the Prime Minister will blame the delay on a third wave of Covid infections and will allow more people to be vaccinated.

The extra four weeks where Brits face social distancing restrictions will allow more people to get the second Covid jab as well as scientists more time to monitor the new variant.

It's expected the PM will announce a drive to accelerate the vaccination programme as well.

It's said the PM will blame the new Delta variant for the delay
It's said the PM will blame the new Delta variant for the delay

But if Freedom Day is pushed back, minor adjustments may only be made to the current lockdown rules in England.

Pubs are likely to stay open and have restricted table service only and indoor venues or theatres being able to run at 50% capacity.

Although nightclubs may remain shut and there could be a reprieve for weddings, where rules currently allow 30 guests.

A source claims Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to push the vaccination drive so more people can get their second Covid jab
A source claims Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to push the vaccination drive so more people can get their second Covid jab

Earlier today, Dr Raghib Ali, a Govt advisor on Covid, said the delay to lifting lockdown is "inevitable" and "expects" PM Boris Johnson to make the call over fears of the NHS coping.

He told Sky News: "Hospitals are extremely busy at the moment, the emergency departments last month were the busiest they have been for years because of the huge backlog of patients that didn't come in during the previous waves."

He went on to say small increases in admissions in hospital with Covid will impact all non-Covid patients as well.

Even a relatively small increase in hospital admissions from COVID will have a significant impact on all our non-COVID patients.

He added: "We really can't afford for those people to suffer anymore; they have already suffered enough over the last 18 months."

Professor Andrew Hayward, of the Nervtag group told BBC's Andrew Marr that the UK is facing a "substantial" third wave of infections.

"I think if we were to open up more that would really fan the flames and lead to this increasing even faster," he warned.

This is a breaking news story and is constantly being updated.

Please refresh the page regularly to get the latest updates.

Reporters working on dailystar.co.uk will be working to source the latest information, reaction, pictures and video related to this story.

Or download the Daily Star app for flash alerts on the biggest stories of the day.

Why not also subscribe to receive our regular Daily Star news bulletins? You can do this on this page by simply entering your email address above and hitting 'subscribe'.

You can also sign up to our showbiz, sport and lifestyle newsletters by clicking here