The Prime Minister has announced a four-week halt at Step 3 of the government’s roadmap, with the majority of the country’s current restrictions remaining in place.
England is now expected to move to Step 4 on 19 July. The COVID roadmap had laid out lockdown coming to an end no earlier than 21st June 2021, which would have removed all legal restrictions on social distancing and allowed larger gatherings and the opening of venues such as nightclubs.
A rise in COVID cases has caused the delay, which is also being enacted to ensure all adults are offered at least one dose of vaccination by next month.
Some restrictions will change however from 21 June, including:
- The 30-person limit will be lifted for weddings and wakes. There will be no set limit on the number of attendees, but venues must adhere to covid secure guidance, maintain social distancing and provide table service. All weddings in private settings, such as gardens, must have completed a covid risk assessment to ascertain how many guests they can host safely.
- Care home residents will no longer need to isolate if they leave their residence. Exceptions will include high risk visits including overnight stays in hospital.
Councillor Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, said: “While I’m not surprised that the Prime Minister is taking a cautious approach to easing of restrictions with infection rates from the Delta variant taking hold, it’s disappointing news for our businesses, particularly the hospitality sector in Lincolnshire, bearing in mind hospitalisations are very low and the vast majority of the vulnerable are now protected.
“That’s no comfort to the businesses who’ve had to suffer from lockdown over the past year but who were beginning to get more people to their doors through the recent period of good weather as people quite rightly look forward to lockdown restrictions ending.
“The hospitality sector in particular need to trade freely and see more footfall without customers being restricted. At least weddings can go ahead with more than 30 people after June 21, with venues given their own capacity limits.
“We moved to help businesses cope with lockdown through our community grant scheme earlier this year which had a great response. And people have had to endure so much they want to see a return to normality as soon as possible.
“Of course we don’t want to open up and then have to go into reverse and shut things down again. None of us want to see any further lockdowns or restrictions being re-imposed. A clear benefit of the vaccine programme is that although infection rates are rising due to people mixing together more freely and the Delta variant taking hold, hospitalisations and deaths remain low.
“In Lincolnshire our rates of infection are still low but are starting to rise as the Delta variant begins to spread from other areas of the country. At least the delay will allow all adults to be offered at least one dose of a vaccination by next month. This will help to counter the threat of the Delta variant and the increase in infection rate, ensuring that as many people as possible are protected before we move to step 4.
“Vaccines are now being offered to younger age groups under the age of 30 and we’d urge everyone who get offered the vaccine to take it up. From Tuesday 15 June, the Prime Minister has said 23 to 24-year-olds can start coming forward for jabs. Vaccines work and give you protection against illness from Covid-19 as well as protecting others around you. But no vaccine offers 100% protection so please remember the basics – hands, face, space and fresh air are still our first line of defence in the battle against Covid-19.”