The final easing of restrictions on June 21st could be delayed by a fortnight as ‘downbeat’ warnings continue from scientists over the impact of the Indian variant.
The so-called ‘Freedom Day’ could be pushed back to allow all over-50s to be fully double-vaccinated and leave with time for jabs to take effect before restrictions are lifted.
The Cabinet is reported to be split with some urging the Prime Minister to exercise caution and avoid any potential set backs – while others say the focus must now shift to the economic recovery. Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps want to avoid any further delay while Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove are among those who think more caution is needed.
It’s understood that contingency plans are being finalised for a possible ‘short’ delay to give scientists more time to consider data and allow the NHS to carry out more vaccinations. It’s thought a delay of ‘between two weeks and a month’ is possible.
Whitehall sources consider a political backlash unlikely if a full reopening takes place before schools break up in July.