Have your say: Do you agree with the 21 June 'unlocking' being delayed by four weeks?

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The government has decided to delay the lifting of all remaining coronavirus restrictions in England beyond 21 June, according to reports.

The date had been earmarked for an end to all COVID-19 restrictions, but a steep rise in cases, caused by the spread of the Delta variant, first identified in India, has led to the delay.

The BBC reported that ministers intend to keep the current rules in place for another four weeks after 21 June, up until 19 July.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce the delay at a press conference later on Monday.

The government had intended to remove all legal limits on social contact in England from next week, but the UK recorded 8,125 new daily cases on Friday – the highest tally since February.

Cases of the Delta variant more than tripled last week.

On Sunday, 7,490 cases were reported in the latest 24-hour period.

The removal of restrictions would mean no rules on how many people you could invite into your home, while pubs, restaurants and cinemas would no longer need capacity limits.

Johnson is expected to face a backlash from many Conservative MPs over the planned delay, which will have to be voted on in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a press conference on the final day of the G7 summit in Cornwall. Picture date: Sunday June 13, 2021.
Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to confirm the delay to the planned date for relaxing COVID-19 restrictions. (PA)

Former minister Mark Harper, chairman of the COVID Recovery Group (CRG) of Tory MPs, said any postponement would be a “political choice”.

He warned that if the "unlocking" did not go ahead as planned, restrictions could carry on through the autumn and into the winter as other respiratory infections picked up.

“The effectiveness of our vaccines at preventing hospitalisation means unlocking on 21 June could proceed safely. Any decision to delay will be a political choice,” he said.

“Variants and mutations will appear for the rest of time. We have to learn to live with it.”

Steve Baker, CRG deputy chairman, questioned how long the country could “fumble along” with restrictions that had such “devastating consequences” for both business and people’s mental health.

But scientists have been warning for weeks that the unlocking date should be delayed in the face of rising cases.

Read more: Indian COVID variant likely to be 60% more infectious than Kent

Watch: Boris Johnson faces Tory backlash over locking lifting delay

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