Boris Announces Extension of Lockdown by Four “Crucial Weeks” – Noting “Possibility” That a “Far More Dangerous” New Variant Could Cause Further Delays After July 19th

Boris Johnson has announced that lockdown will be extended until July 19th. At a Downing Street briefing, the Prime Minister said that four more “crucial weeks” of restrictions were needed to prevent the virus from “outrunning” the vaccine and to prevent “thousands more deaths that could otherwise have been avoided”.

The PM hopes that “easing off the accelerator” will allow enough time for two-thirds of the adult population to be fully vaccinated against Covid, but warned that “a proportion of the elderly and vulnerable may still succumb [to the virus] even if they have had two jabs”.

Weddings and wakes with over 30 guests will be permitted after June 21st, so long as social distancing guidelines are followed, and there is a possibility that restrictions could end after a two-week extension on July 5th. The chances of this are, however, very slim. Boris said:

[We must] wait another four weeks – or maybe as little as two weeks. But let’s be realistic, [it’s] probably more likely [to be] four weeks.

Whereas June 21st was a “not-before date”, the PM is “pretty confident that July 19th will be, as it were, a terminus date”. That is unless yet another “new variant” emerges.

At that stage [when, by July 19th, the vaccine roll-out has created a “wall of immunity”]… I am confident that we will be able to go forward with the full… opening. That, of course, doesn’t exclude the possibility… that there is some new variant that is far more dangerous – that kills people in a way that we currently cannot foresee or understand. That’s obviously the case.

As before, Boris maintains that the roadmap to freedom should be “cautious” but “irreversible”. You can watch the full briefing here.

Stop Press: Sam Coates of Sky News says that “Labour will back the four-week delay to lockdown lifting step four”.

They will characterise it as a consequence of Boris Johnson’s mishandling and criticise [the] lack of economic support.

Stop Press 2: According to YouGov, 71% of English adults support the unlocking delay.

Stop Press 3: GB News has reported on the lockdown protesters marching outside Downing Street today.

The people are really angry. “Enough is enough” was the message that [came] from there – people wanting to just have the choice now to get out there and live their lives again.

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