PM confirms four-week delay to final lockdown easing

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

PM confirms four-week delay to final lockdown easing

Related tags Freedom Day Coronavirus lockdown Social Distancing

Boris Johnson has confirmed that there will be a four week delay to the final stage of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.

During a Downing Street press conference this evening (14 June), the Prime Minister announced that the plan to drop all legal restrictions on social contact in England will no longer go ahead on 21 June as hoped, and will instead be pushed back to Monday 19 July.

It will mean hospitality businesses will have to continue following social distancing restrictions and operate table service only for at least another four weeks.

Weddings and wakes will be allowed with social distancing, while event pilots will continue for the Euro football tournament and theatrical performances. 

The delay is designed to allow more time for both first and second vaccine doses to be delivered, to help combat the rise of the so-called Delta variant first identified in India.

While Johnson was unable to give a 'cast-iron guarantee' that all restrictions would definitely lift on 19 July, he said that he was 'confident' there would be no need for a further delay.

He also added that he reserves the right to speed up the lifting of remaining restrictions if after the two weeks the data has improved.

"Now is the time to ease off the accelerator because by being cautious now we have the chance – in the next four weeks – to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people," said Johnson.

"And once the adults of this country have been overwhelmingly vaccinated, which is what we can achieve in a short space of time, we will be in a far stronger position to keep hospitalisations down, to live with this disease, and to complete our cautious but irreversible roadmap to freedom."

The decision to delay the final easing of lockdown will come as a huge blow to the hospitality sector, which had been hoping it would finally be able to shake the restrictions that have undermined its recovery this month.

UKHospitality has already warned that a four week delay risks further jeopardising the future of thousands of hospitality businesses​ and the jobs they provide.

According to the trade body, it will cost the sector around £3bn in sales and put approximately 300,000 jobs at risk – including those still on furlough.

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