Covid-19: Government ‘open’ to delaying 21 June lockdown ending date

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The government is “absolutely open” to delaying the final lifting of England’s lockdown on 21 June if necessary, the health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock said 21 June was a “not before” date to end restrictions under the government’s roadmap, and that No 10 “would look at the data”.

He also said he “wouldn’t rule out” the continued wearing of face masks and working from home measures.

The end of lockdown would see all legal limits on social contact lifted.

Nightclubs would also reopen, and restrictions on performances, weddings and other life events would also be removed.

But concerns about the spread of the variant first seen in India, now known as Delta, have led some scientists to call for a delay.

Another 5,765 infections were recorded in the UK on Saturday, and another 13 deaths were recorded within 28 days of a positive test.

The recent surge in cases is being partly driven by the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, the health secretary said the government would “look at the data for another week then make a judgement” on if the final lifting of restrictions could go ahead on 21 June.

When asked if the government would delay the unlocking, he said they were “absolutely open to doing that if that’s what needs to happen” and that the government’s “roadmap was set up to take these changes into account”.

Asked whether some measures, such as the wearing of face coverings and working from home, might need to remain in place, he said: “I wouldn’t rule that out.

“The way we are looking at this is step four [of the roadmap] involves the removing of the remaining social restrictions like the rule of six and some of the business closures which are still there.”

Mr Hancock also referred to a government review into social distancing measures – including face coverings and working from home guidance – which still needs to report.

Asked if there should be vaccination passports in the UK – for example in hospitality – he said there were “downsides” to introducing them, “especially on a mandatory basis” and that it would be subject to a review.

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