Boris Johnson has today announced that the original date proposed for ‘freedom day’ in England – the day that all restrictions and social distancing rules are to be lifted – will be delayed.

The Government has always emphasised that the target dates set out in the roadmap out of lockdown were conditional and would be changed if certain criteria such as coronavirus case numbers in the UK and the containment of new Covid variants, were not met.

The Prime Minister today asked for patience from the public as he explained the final stage of lifting restrictions will be pushed back.

When will lockdown end?

Boris Johnson announced at a Downing Street press briefing that England’s ‘freedom day’ will be delayed for one month, pushing back the date for when all restrictions will end until July 19.

This delay in ending lockdown has been caused by the new Covid variants that have been spreading around the UK, causing cases to rise in 90% of local authorities in England.

It is hoped that the four-week delay will buy the country more time to tackle the sharp rise in cases of the Delta – or Indian – variant to ensure that when measures lift they are ‘irreversible’.

The one month delay should allow all over-50s to receive their second dose of the vaccine and build up protection, while the Government has vowed to give all remaining adults their first dose by the end of July.

Former chief scientific adviser Professor Sir Mark Walport told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It is a race between the vaccination and virus, and another four weeks makes a significant difference.’

MORE : Delaying end of lockdown by four weeks ‘could keep thousands out of hospital’