What will happen on June 21?
Adam Fleming discusses June 21st plans
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June 21 was dubbed the end of lockdown when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of restrictions back in February. But since then, much has changed in the UK and around the world, prompting one senior Government to insist it’s too early to speculate about what will happen. Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi refused to deny that some restrictions may stay in place past the intended date. The Government continues to grapple with a rise in cases amid the spread of the variant first detected in India, with fears the new surge could throw off Mr Johnson’s roadmap.
What will happen on June 21?
An announcement about the June 21 reopening is expected on June 14, but Mr Zahawi refused twice to rule out the possibility that the unlocking could be changed at any time.
Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the vaccines minister said: “We have to look at the data and we will share that with the country. It would be completely wrong for me not to speculate.
“There are many people watching your programme, in jobs and businesses, who want to basically follow the exact direction the Government is giving them whilst taking personal responsibility.
“At the moment, we don’t have enough data, so there are some parts of the country where there’s literally no B.1.617.2 (India variant) and everything is pretty stable, in other parts of the country it is beginning to overtake the B117 variant – the Kent variant.
“We have to look in the next couple of weeks and then we will share that with the country.”
In terms of what will change, June 21 is expected to be the biggest easing of restrictions with hopes to remove “all legal limits on social contact”.
This means there will no longer be restrictions on how many people you can meet, either indoors or outdoors.
However, some social distancing rules will likely remain in place while the wearing of face coverings may still be mandatory in certain enclosed public spaces.
Nightclubs and music venues will be allowed to reopen and larger events, like sports matches, will be allowed to take place without limited crowds.
Government guidance reads: “This will be subject to the results of a scientific events research programme to test the outcome of certain pilot events through the spring a summer, where we will trial the use of testing and other techniques to cut the risk of infection.”
Mr Johnson had initially said there was nothing to suggest the roadmap will be delayed, fears are on the rise about the situation in the UK.
The Government has, once again, come out with mixed messaging as Health Secretary Matt Hancock issued a different sentiment to Mr Zahawi.
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Mr Hancock recently said he is “increasingly confident” that the roadmap is back on track, while his Cabinet colleague Home Secretary Priti Patel said the data looked “positive”.
The Health Secretary said: “I’m increasingly confident we’re on track for the road map because this data shows the vaccine after two doses works just as effectively, and we all know that the vaccine is our way out of this.”
Some have urged the Government to be especially cautious in the run-up to June 21.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said staff were “going full pelt” to deal with a backlog of care requirements on waiting lists and so really don’t have the capacity for a surge in Covid patients.
Mr Hopson told BBC Breakfast: “While it’s great news that the vaccinations are working – and I think that sends us one message in terms of opening up on June 21 – what we mustn’t forget is there are still loads of people who need to be vaccinated, and we know this variant that originated in India is much more transmissible.
“So there is going to be a really difficult decision about how much we open how quickly, and that’s why were calling really clearly this morning – let’s have the best quality of debate about what the trade-offs here are.
“Let’s try, if I may be so bold, to have a rather better quality of evidence-based debate about how quickly we should ease the lockdown measures than perhaps we’ve had in previous phases.”
More is expected to be revealed within the coming weeks as the Government will have to decide whether to press on with the June 21 reopening.
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