Four week pause for Covid-19 restrictions

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has held a Downing Street briefing this evening where he announced that there will be a 4-week pause on Step 3, meaning that Step 3 restrictions remain in place.

It is expected that England will now move to Step 4 on 19 July, though the data will be reviewed after 2 weeks in case the risks have reduced. The government will continue to monitor the data and the move to Step 4 will be confirmed one week in advance.

Some restrictions will change on 21 June. From 21 June, there will be changes to the rules on:

  • weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and wedding receptions or civil partnership celebrations – weddings can go ahead with more than 30 guests providing there is social distancing.  
  • commemorative events following a death such as a wake, stone setting or ash scattering – wakes can go ahead with more than 30 guests providing there is social distancing.  
  • large events pilots will continue
  • care home visits
  • domestic residential visits for children

The reasons given for this ‘pause’ are:

  • The Government is very concerned about the Delta variant and how fast it is growing (in some areas doubling every week).  
  • Hospitalisations in the North West have increased by 61% week on week (and this may be the ‘sign of things to come’)
  • The numbers of people in ICU are also rising.
  • The link between the virus and hospitalisation, and the link between the virus and death has been weakened but not severed at this stage
  • Deaths which could have been prevented may ensue
  • We have not have not met the 4 tests
  • The Government want to give the NHS a few more weeks to vaccinate people.

The Prime Minister said that by 19 July they are aiming to have double jabbed 2/3rds of the adult population, including everyone over 50, front line staff, vulnerable people, and everyone over 40 who received the jab by mid-May.  They are accelerating the second jabs for everyone over 40, they are bringing forward the target of offering all adults their 1stdose by 19 July including young people over the age of 18, and 23 & 24 year olds will be invited for vaccinations from tomorrow.

You can find the just published transcript here (which corrects the PM’s error in referring to 29th July at one point).

In related news, just before the briefing a report was published which contained new analysis by PHE and shows for the first time that 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta (B.1.61.2) variant.

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