Plans for social distancing and ‘Covid certificates’ after June 21 won’t be revealed for another WEEK despite rising hopes that ‘freedom day’ WILL go ahead
- Social distancing and Covid certificate reviews not expected until next week
- Boris Johnson had promised they would be revealed by the end of this month
- Hopes rising that the June 21 unlocking can go ahead despite Indian variant
Plans for social distancing and ‘Covid certificates’ after June 21 will not be revealed for at least another week despite rising hopes that ‘freedom day’ can go ahead.
Boris Johnson had promised the conclusions of key reviews for England would come before the end of the month, giving businesses time to prepare for the changes.
But Downing Street indicated that the timetable has slipped as ministers wait for the latest data on the Indian variant.
The delay was confirmed even though government sources are sounding increasingly bullish about the prospects of the unlocking going ahead as per the roadmap schedule.
After weeks of anxiety, a new study over the weekend suggested the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are effective against the Indian strain of the disease.
The jabs combat the new mutant almost as well as the Kent strain, a study by Public Health England found. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the findings were ‘groundbreaking’.
And under-30s could be called for vaccines within days after the UK yesterday passed the ‘incredible’ milestone of 60million doses administered.
Boris Johnson had promised the conclusions of key reviews for England would come before the end of the month, giving businesses time to prepare for the changes
June 21 is meant to be the fourth and final step on the government’s unlocking roadmap
The reviews on social distancing and Covid certificates had been promised by the end of the month.
Mr Johnson has already said there is no prospect of certificates being required to go to pubs, and hinted that the one-metre plus rule could be axed to open up hospitality and offices.
It is understood the formal conclusions are now not likely until at least Tuesday next week.
The PM’s official spokesman said: ‘We will do it as soon as possible based on the latest data, which will help inform us what measures we can take around certification.’
The latest data on the Indian variant was needed and ‘that will allow us to make final decisions’ on the issues.
‘I think it’s reasonable for a new variant such as this, and the need to gather as much data as possible to inform our decisions, it’s right to take the time to get that information before making those final decisions.’
A decision on whether or not to proceed with step four on June 21 will be taken a week earlier on June 14, as planned.
The NHS gave a record number of second jabs on Saturday, the latest figures show.
The NHS lowered the eligibility age for the jab three times last week with those aged 32 and 33 the latest to benefit.
This is expected to be lowered to 30 early this week and officials believe they can drop it even further soon after.
A source said: ‘The vaccine programme has been progressing at a rate of knots, getting to ever younger age groups, while continuing to offer second doses at a record pace.
‘If all goes to plan, everyone in their thirties will hopefully have received their invite for a jab within 72 hours or so, with some in their twenties being called forward within the next week to ten days.’
The PHE study showed that the Pfizer vaccine was 88 per cent effective against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant two weeks after the second dose. This compares with 93 per cent against the Kent variant.
The AstraZeneca jab was also found to be 60 per cent effective against the Indian variant after two doses and 66 per cent effective against the Kent strain.
But both vaccines were only 33 per cent effective against the Indian variant three weeks after one dose, compared with 50 per cent for Kent.
The chief of the UK Health Security Agency also said that the prospect of all Covid restrictions being lifted next month is ‘looking good’.
Dr Jenny Harries told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show: ‘It’s looking good if people are continuing to observe all of the safety signals – so we should not stop doing what we’re doing.’
Five more deaths were reported yesterday within 28 days of a positive Covid test, taking the total to 127,721. There were also 2,235 new lab-confirmed cases, with the tally now standing at 4,462,538.