The Prime Minister is facing a Conservative backbench rebellion as he prepares to announce a delay to the final lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England.
Boris Johnson is expected to announce that the roadmap easing earmarked for June 21 will be delayed for four weeks.
He will hold a Downing Street press conference at 6pm, accompanied by England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
The announcement means that limits on numbers for sports events, pubs and cinemas are likely to remain in place, nightclubs will stay closed and people will be encouraged to keep up social distancing and working from home.
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Health minister Edward Argar said that if the June 21 lockdown easing was delayed for one month, another 10 million second coronavirus vaccine doses could be given across the UK.
He told Sky News that while the number of people in hospital has been “creeping up a bit”, vaccination meant “we are seeing that severing of the link between the disease and hospitalisations and death.”
Mr Argar added: “I think that on that basis, everyone will recognise that there comes a point where we do have to live with this disease and recognise that you cannot go for a zero Covid approach, you have to live with it, and vaccination is the key to that.
“So I think once we have got those second doses in people’s arms, once we have got that level of protection up to around that 81 per cent, then I think people will be more comfortable with it.”
But when is the date of the four-week delay?
Assuming it is just four weeks, it means restrictions could potentially be lifted on July 19.
This is subject to the Delta variant cases falling in the UK as the number of vaccinations increases.