‘Freedom Day’ to be delayed by four weeks to July 19 - reports

·2-min read
Boris Johnson is currently in Cornwall for the G7 summit (Simon Dawson/No10 Downing Street)
Boris Johnson is currently in Cornwall for the G7 summit (Simon Dawson/No10 Downing Street)

Boris Johnson will push back “Freedom Day” from June 21 until July 19 after cases of the Indian Covid variant shot up in the past week, according to reports.

Latest figures showed the Delta strain, which originated in India, is behind 90 per cent of the UK’s coronavirus cases with a massive 240 per cent increase in seven days.

A two-week review will be built into the plans - to be announced on Monday - meaning lockdown restrictions could be relaxed on July 5 if hospitalisations stay low, The Sun reports.

It is understood the latest setback to the government’s roadmap out of lockdown will have a knock-on effect on Wembley Stadium’s chances of hosting full crowds for the Euro 2020 final.

England play their first group stage match against Croatia on Sunday in front of 22,500 fans - 25 per cent of the capacity - with plans to increase that to 45,000 fans for the semi-finals and final on July 11.

But the likelihood of 90,000 fully vaccinated or tested fans attending the showpiece event now appears remote.

There have been almost 30,000 new cases of the variant in the past week with 8,125 recorded on Friday alone.

England’s R rate has been above one for two weeks, indicating that the pandemic is growing.

Earlier today, the prime minister faced calls to delay “Freedom Day” from opposition MPs, as well as medical experts.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association council, said that “relaxing all restrictions will undo the excellent work of the vaccine programme and lead to a surge in infections”.

“The UK’s vaccination programme has been a tremendous success and this, together with the hard work and sacrifices of so many, and measures such as social distancing and mask wearing, has helped us come a long way in our fight against this terrible virus,” Dr Nagpaul added.

The government had planned to remove “all legal limits on social contact” from June 21, meaning there will no longer be restrictions on how many people can meet, indoors or outdoors.

The latest figures from Public Health England (PHE) also show that 42,323 cases of the Delta variant first identified in India have been confirmed in the UK, up by 29,892 from last week.

PHE estimates the variant is roughly 60 per cent more spreadable than the previously dominant Alpha variant, first identified in Kent, and could make people more seriously ill.

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