The lifting of all restrictions on 19 July is “possibly too early”, the government has been warned, with public health experts calling for more caution in the weeks ahead amid the continuing spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.
The rapid emergence of Delta forced Downing Street to delay the full reopening of society on 21 June by four weeks, and some scientists concerned that the UK will remain vulnerable to a significant surge in cases, hospitalisations and deaths once all measures are removed later next month.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson will reportedly “urge” Angela Merkel to drop plans for an EU-wide quarantine on UK arrivals during a face-to-face meeting in London on Friday. A UK government source told the Mail that the Prime Minister will encourage the German Chancellor to drop the plans, which are set to be proposed to the EU this week.
The chair of the UK’s advisory group for new and emerging respiratory virus threats (NERVTAG) has said he thinks a “stronger” border could have delayed or stopped the Delta variant from arriving into the UK.
During an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Professor Sir Peter Horby said “stronger border measures may have delayed that, may even have prevented” Delta from arriving from India, where it was first detected. He also predicted it will spread throughout Europe.
Sadiq Khan, also appearing on the programme, said London will “hopefully” reopen fully on 19 July despite a rise in infections, and called for young people to “please, please, please” get vaccinated for Covid.
As people aged 18 to 29 turned out in the hundreds of thousands to get vaccinated across the UK on Saturday, Mr Khan said he was hopeful of reopening in almost three weeks — and that he was “reassured” by Wembley hosting the Euro 2020 finals in a fortnight.
Across the UK, half of all adults aged 18 to 29 will have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by Sunday in England - three weeks after appointments were opened up to under 30s.
Amid fears of a third wave of Covid, the UK on Saturday recorded 18,270 infections - its highest figure in four months, and a 20 per cent rise on Friday. A further 28 additional deaths were recorded, bring the country’s toll to 128,089.
Watch: What you need to know about COVID-19 variants