Johnson expected to announce delay in next England unlocking
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to confirm Monday that the next planned relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in England will be delayed as a result of the spread of the delta variant first identified in India.
While hosting the Group of Seven summit in southwest England, Johnson conceded over the weekend that he had grown more pessimistic about the government lifting remaining limits on social contact on June 21 after daily cases reported across the U.K. hit levels not seen since February.
“Clearly, what you’ve got is a race between the vaccines and the virus, and the vaccines are going to win,” he told the BBC. “It’s just a question of pace.”
With the delta variant estimated by some health experts to be at least 60% more contagious than the previous dominant strain, British scientists and doctors urged the prime minister to err on the side of caution and postpone implementing the fourth stage of his government’s four-step unlocking plan for England.
Under his government's road map, nightclubs were set to reopen for the first time since the pandemic struck in March 2020 and all other legal limits on social contact were due to be scrapped by June 21 at the earliest, if coronavirus trends supported the moves.
Professor Andrew Hayward, an epidemiologist from University College London who is a member of a group advising the government, said that removing remaining restrictions could “fan the flames” of rising infections. He compared the process to driving a car around a bend without knowing what was around the corner.
“I think it’s clear we will have a substantial third wave of infections, the really big question is how much that wave of infections is going to translate into hospitalizations,” Hayward told the BBC.
On Sunday, the British...