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England Delays Next Stage of Reopening Process

People in England who have been waiting to fully return to the way life was before the coronavirus pandemic will have to wait a little longer. Boris Johnson has announced a four-week delay in stage four of the country’s reopening efforts.

What Does the Delay Mean?

England first announced its four-stage process for reopening in February. It officially began on 8th March when visitors were allowed to return to care homes, and non-college students were allowed to go back to school. The 21st June was the original earliest possible date that stage four would have started.

This delay means that many pandemic-related restrictions affecting sporting events, pubs, cinemas and nightclubs will no longer be lifted on 21st June. Rather, the government is now targeting 19th July for those changes.

Stage four reopening efforts largely affect social contact and social distancing. The changes would have allowed nightclubs to reopen and other venues and events—such as weddings—to operate without capacity limits. In addition, the stage four adjustments will end any limits related to gatherings in homes.

The Delta Variant

Johnson specifically cited the Delta variant of COVID-19 as a cause for concern and estimated that beginning stage four too early could result in thousands of deaths. This variant is believed to be more contagious and likely to result in hospital admission than the original strain.

The Delta variant was first identified in India in February. In recent weeks, cases have been identified in dozens of countries around the world. Furthermore, on 10th June, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that this variant now makes up approximately 91 per cent of new COVID-19 cases in the UK.

Vaccinations

The government hopes that delaying stage four of the reopening process will provide more time for people to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

At this time, all adults 23 and older on or before 1st July, 2021 are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Health Minister Edward Argar has said that most severe cases of the Delta variant have been among unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people. Argar also noted that nearly 10 million second vaccinations could be administered during the four-week delay.

For more information on vaccine eligibility and booking an appointment, click here.

More Information

In Scotland, all areas are expected to move to level zero COVID restrictions on 28th June. This will mean larger gatherings will be allowed in cafes, pubs and restaurants, although social distancing will still be enforced. Limits on indoor gatherings are also currently scheduled to be eased in Northern Ireland on 21st June. Current restrictions are expected to be reviewed in Wales on 25th June.

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