England lockdown POLL: Should Boris Johnson delay the June 21 reopening?

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Mr Johnson is coming under pressure from all sides over whether to plough ahead with his lockdown roadmap. Scientists and medics are urging the Government to delay a further easing of measures on June 21, due to the impact of the Indian variant – now formally known as Delta – and fears it could overwhelm the NHS. But Tory backbenchers and business leaders are urging the Prime Minister to stick with the original date and return to near-normal.

Hospitality chiefs are particularly concerned about the prospect of a delay to the lifting of social distancing measures, as many warn they are only able to break even at the moment due to current limits on capacity.

Kate Nicholls, of UK Hospitality, said keeping the current restrictions would be “devastating” for businesses that are counting on being able to expand their capacity in the coming weeks.

MPs are also urging Mr Johnson to ease restrictions on June 21, pointing to the success of the country’s vaccine rollout.

Sir John Redwood, a former cabinet minister, said: “I think they will go for it on June 21. I think the data will be perfectly reasonable.

“The worry is about serious cases, hospital admissions and deaths — those figures all look under very good control as you would expect because of the success of the vaccines.

“I would be very surprised if they changed course.”

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, added: “The huge success of the vaccination programme should give the reassurance necessary that the remaining social distancing restrictions can be lifted safely on June 21 as planned.”

The case for reopening was also given fresh hope yesterday as the UK reported no new coronavirus deaths for the first time since the pandemic began last year.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the news as a significant milestone, and said: “The whole country will be so glad there were no Covid-related deaths recorded yesterday.

“The vaccines are clearly working — protecting you, those around you and your loved ones.”

Confirmed cases of coronavirus were also fairly low, with just 3,165 recorded across the UK.

The latest daily figure for admissions is 133, compared with a high of 4,500 in the winter.

The low figures are likely due to reporting delays over the Bank Holiday weekend, and both cases and fatalities are expecting to increase in the coming weeks as the effect of the latest easing of restrictions on May 17 is felt.

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But despite the promising statistics, leading scientists are urging the Prime Minister to air on the side of caution and delay reopening on June 21.

Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said easing of restrictions should be delayed for a few weeks.

He told Sky News: “I think we need at least a few weeks – probably a month until schools have closed, when the risk of transmission within schools falls during summer holidays.

“It then gives us another four weeks’ worth of data to collect about how the [Indian variant of the] virus is growing in the population, what sort of rate it is growing at, how it is doing relative to the previous strain B117 [Kent variant].

“And also how effective our vaccines are against this new virus.”

Yesterday Nicola Sturgeon backed the scientists fearing a third wave is on the way and postponed the easing of restrictions in Scotland.

Mr Johnson is due to give an indication on his intentions this morning, as he speaks from Downing Street.

A telling sign will be whether he repeats his previous insistence that there is “nothing in the data” to suggest postponing reopening is necessary.

But the Prime Minister is not expected to give a final decision today and could delay the verdict until as late as June 14, according to the Environment Secretary.

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