What time is Boris Johnson’s Covid announcement today?

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 (Getty Images)
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Boris Johnson will announce to the public today ministers’ final decision on whether or not to delay the fourth and final stage of his roadmap out of lockdown, provisionally set for June 21.

At a press conference this evening, the prime minister is expected to confirm that some coronavirus restrictions will remain in place in England beyond this date.

He is reportedly planning to tell the nation that “one last heave” is necessary to get the nation over the line, set to last four weeks.

Follow live: Boris Johnson to delay lockdown easing

This means that most current Covid-19 rules are likely to remain in place, including the rule of six indoors and private gatherings outdoors with more than 30 people being banned – although exceptions are possible.

Social distancing guidelines and mandatory mask-wearing on public transport and in shops and indoor venues could also continue.

Mr Johnson’s press conference is set to take place at 6pm this evening - later than the 5pm start time of most government briefings held throughout the pandemic.

You’ll be able to watch it live on The Independent’s website. You can also follow breaking updates throughout the day on The Independent’s Covid-19 blog.

The announcement comes amid concerns over the spread of the Delta variant, first identified in India, which Public Health England (PHE) recently announced accounts for more than 90 per cent of British Covid-19 cases.

The variant is around 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, first identified in Kent, and is better able to evade vaccine immunity, with one dose giving just 33 per cent protection against infection. This rises to 80 per cent after a second dose.

PHE also announced that England’s R rate has increased and is now between 1.2 and 1.4, meaning that the number of new infections is growing by between three and six per cent each day – or more, as these estimates represent transmission two to three weeks ago because of the time delay between infection and symptoms being developed.

Although the delay, if announced, will be welcomed by the scientists who have warned the government that cases and hospitalisations could surge if all restrictions are lifted, it represents another heavy blow for the arts and hospitality industry.

Clubs are likely to remain shut and pubs, bars and restaurants as well as theatres, cinemas and other venues won’t be allowed to welcome mixed-households groups of more than six.

Limitations are are also likely to remain in place for large events, with indoor stadiums currently allowed to fill a quarter of seats and outdoor stadiums allowed to fill a half.

Ministers have debated an exception for weddings, according to The Telegraph, which could be allowed to go ahead with more than 30 guests from 21 June.

But exact plans going forward won’t be known officially until the prime minister addresses the nation later today.

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