England will be living under Covid-19 restrictions for another four weeks amid an exponential rise in Delta variant cases and hospitalisations.
At a Downing Street press briefing, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the four week delay because data showed cases and hospitalisations of the Delta variant, which originated in India, was exponentially rising.
"I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer," he said.
On Monday Britain reported 7,742 new confirmed Covid-19 cases, one of the highest daily numbers since the end of February. Johnson is confident the next four weeks will allow millions more people to get fully vaccinated against the virus, which could save thousands of lives.
"It is unmistakably clear the vaccines are working and the sheer scale of the vaccine roll-out has made our position incomparably better than in previous waves," Johnson says.
"But now is the time to ease off the accelerator because by being cautious now we have the chance – in the next four weeks – to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people."
Under the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, this final stage would have seen all restrictions on social contact lifted.
The announcement will be another massive blow to many businesses, particularly those in hospitality, theatre and entertainment who’ve been in lockdown for 15 months.
The new target date for unlocking will be July 19.