BUSINESSES planning to reopen on June 21 have been dealt a major blow after the next stage of lockdown lifting has been pushed back.
Boris Johnson announced that plans for the final stage of pandemic restrictions ending will NOT go ahead as hoped for next week.
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Instead, it will be pushed back until July 19.
A sombre PM said tonight: "I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer.
"We will hold off until July 19.
"I am confident we won't need more than four weeks - it's unmistakable clear that the vaccines are working - but now is the time to ease off the accelerator.
"We have the chance to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people."
It was also announced that:
The Prime Minister's roadmap was first outlined back in February, with four stages for getting the country back to normal after the coronavirus pandemic.
Previously restrictions were eased on April 12 when pubs opened for outdoor drinking and non-essential shops opened their doors again.
From May 17 Brits have been allowed to eat and drink inside pubs and restaurants, with rules also relaxed for how many people can meet up outside.
The fourth and final stage of lockdown restrictions easing was expected to take place on June 21.
FREEDOM DAY - KEY DATES
June 14: Boris Johnson will address the nation and reveal his plan to push Freedom Day back to July 19
June 21: The original end of lockdown under the PM's roadmap, which has now been delayed
July 5: The PM will run the rule over the data for a two-week 'break-clause' review. If hospitalisations haven't increased significantly, restrictions could be relaxed early.
July 19: The new 'Freedom Day' date where all remaining rules should be lifted.
That would have included nightclubs reopening and larger events allowed to take place.
But that will no longer go ahead as the Indian variant - also known as the Delta variant - is driving a rapid surge in the virus, even as more people get vaccinated.
The extension comes as a shock as dates previously set for reopening businesses all went ahead as planned.
Here's a list of businesses that must now remain shut until next month:
Which businesses can't open on June 21?
Nightclubs are among the businesses which were expected to reopen on June 21 but that has now been delayed.
They will stay closed for now and the same goes for strip clubs and larger events.
June 21 was always the earliest for the next - and final - stage of the roadmap for lifting the country out of lockdown.
The date of this "final unlocking" when all restrictions are lifted is under review.
Nightclubs are among the last to reopen due to the difficulty of making them Covid-secure
There is limited social distancing and it's harder to keep areas clean constantly.
Meanwhile, strip club customers are set to be required to show Covid vaccine passports when they do reopen.
What businesses reopened on May 17?
Businesses that rely on an indoor setting have been allowed to open their doors to customers again from May 17.
This includes pubs and restaurants, both of which are now allowed dine-in customers.
Some larger events have finally kicked off again from May 17 too.
It means footie fans have been able to watch Euro 2020 games at Wembley with social distancing measures in place.
Indoor events such as gigs have a capacity limit of 1,000, or 50% - whichever is the smaller number.
Meanwhile, outdoor events can welcome up 4,000 or 50% capacity.
But outdoor events which are seated, such as football matches, are capped at 10,000 or 25%.
Other businesses allowed to reopen include indoor entertainment, such as cinemas and bingo halls.
What businesses reopened on April 12?
Here is a list of businesses that were allowed to welcome back customers from April 12:
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