Chances ‘close to nil’ of June 21 ‘Freedom Day’ going ahead as planned
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The chances of the full lifting of lockdown on June 21 are "close to nil", it has been claimed.
Under England’s roadmap out of lockdown, the date — dubbed Freedom Day or Liberation Day by some — has been set as the final stage of lifting all remaining restrictions.
But ministers and officials believe the likelihood of it going ahead precisely as planned are slim, according to ITV.
They reportedly claim it depends on data which will become available in a fortnight’s time.
It comes amid mounting concern over the Indian coronavirus variant in the UK.
Lockdown was eased on Monday, May 17 with pubs and restaurants now able to serve punters indoors.
International travel has also resumed.
All remaining restrictions on social contact are due to be axed on June 21 under Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap, while nightclubs are scheduled to reopen.
But a government adviser told ITV’s Robert Peston: "It is clear some social distancing will have to be retained, not everything we've set out for 21 June is likely to happen.”
The adviser said it is “also possible some of the easing we've done” on Monday will have to be “reversed” – but did not specify which parts.
A final decision on the next stage of lockdown is around a month away.
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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said 86 local councils have now recorded five or more cases of the Indian variant, which is thought to be more transmissible.
He revealed there were now 2,323 confirmed cases of the Indian variant in the UK, of which 483 were in Bolton and in Blackburn with Darwen.
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the reintroduction of local lockdowns as restrictions are eased elsewhere ‘can’t be ruled out’.
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He told Times Radio: “If we do have a deterioration in some of these areas then of course we can't rule out that we would put in place certain local lockdowns.
"At the moment we are doing a lot of intensive surveillance in those areas, with surge testing to identify it and deal with it."
But there is growing opposition over any potential delay of the final easing of lockdown.
Tory backbench MP Sir John Redwood argued the Government must stick to the agreed dates for the easing of lockdown.
He told the radio station: “As a rule maker, I will argue very strongly that we've had enough of rules.
“We've got to move on and recreate livelihoods that have been temporarily suspended, otherwise, they will be destroyed.
“People have a right to have a bit of fun."
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