Those who are missing the days of going out clubbing after an evening in the pub or pre-drinking will have to wait a little longer to do so again.
Boris Johnson announced this evening that nightclubs will remain closed until at least July 19, to give ‘a few more crucial weeks’ to get people vaccinated.
Speaking at a press conference this evening, the prime minister confirmed that there will be a four week delay before lockdown restrictions can be eased.
‘I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer. By July 19 we aim to have jabbed two thirds of the adult population,’ he said.
He said everyone should have been given a first dose by then, including young people over 18.
All limits on social contact had originally been scheduled to lift on June 21, as part of the ‘road map’ set out in February.
But the spread of a new, more infectious variant has disrupted those plans.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, has now become the dominant strain in the UK and cases continue to rise, with numbers doubling every week in the worst affected areas.
A four week delay is intended to give more time for the vaccine roll-out to continue, so that more people are protected when the rules change.
The prime minister got confused at one point in the press conference and said restrictions would remain until July 29, however made clear that the delay would in fact be four weeks until July 19.
Two doses of the vaccines are thought to give significantly more protection against the Delta variant than one, so increasing the number who are fully vaccinated is a priority.
Mr Johnson said ‘we must learn to live with’ Covid as we cannot eliminate it.
He told the public: ‘We’ve obviously faced a very difficult choice: We can simply keep going with all of step four on June 21, even though there is a real possibility that the virus will outrun the vaccines and that thousands more deaths would ensue that 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.
‘I cannot say that we have met all our four tests for proceeding with step four on June 21.’
He added: ‘We will monitor the position every day and if after two weeks we’ve concluded that the risk has diminished, then we reserve the possibility of proceeding to step four and a full opening sooner.
‘As things stand, and on the evidence that I can see right now, I’m confident that we will not need more than four weeks and we won’t need to go beyond July 19.’
Health minister Edward Argar said earlier that a delay of one month would give time for another 10 million second coronavirus vaccine doses to be given across the UK.
Mr Johnson spoke from Downing Street tonight, accompanied by England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
His announcement means that limits on numbers for sports events, pubs and cinemas will remain in place.
People will be also encouraged to keep up social distancing and working from home.
However, an exception was made for weddings, which will no longer be subject to a limit of 30 people in attendance, though social distancing will need to remain in place.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, warned that hospitality busineses had been facing ‘significant distress’ from the uncertainty on whether rules would be relaxed, as well as from the restrictions themselves.
She said before the new date was announced: ‘Any delay in the road map would have a devastating effect on an already fragile sector.’
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