Mark Drakeford defends delay to lockdown end announcement
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Freedom Day on June 21 is the Government’s proposed lockdown exit date, giving millions of Brits a taste of restriction-free life for the first time since early 2020. Although the current restrictions are some of the lightest yet, people want all aspects of their “normal” lives to return. But they may have to wait a little longer than expected due to England’s rapidly evolving infection rate.
Has freedom day been delayed?
The Government has so far followed its Covid “roadmap” to the letter, freeing up a new section of society at least once a month since April.
Each checkpoint came with a negligible number of Covid cases, with deaths down to the single figures by last week.
Recently, however, cases have increased astronomically, today hitting more than 8,000 due to the now dominant Delta Covid variant.
And the situation has allegedly led some officials to reconsider the initial “freedom” date.
The Sun reported today the Prime Minister is on course to shift freedom day by nearly a month.
Harry Cole, the publication’s political editor, said “multiple sources” had informed him the chances of unlocking by June 21 were “close to zero”.
The source added officials want to ensure they “get it right” on the first try and don’t have to plunge the country back into lockdown.
They said: “The last thing they need is a hokey cokey of in out, in out of restrictions.
“No one wants to go backwards, and we have to get this right first go.”
The latest news falls in line with previous reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak favoured a “four-week” postponement to the date.
Another source told The Guardian he would accept a month-long delay maximum to provide businesses with some certainty.
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The source said he wanted to ensure the freedoms are “irreversible and businesses have clarity.”
They added officials had designed furlough’s gradual tapering off with potential delays in mind.
The Government’s alleged decision will go ahead to give the UK’s vaccine plan enough time to reach its full potential.
By the end of July, all adults should have received a vaccine offer, with many others approaching their second jab.
Medical professionals have warned many more people need their vaccination before fully unlocking England.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA), has urged the Government to reconsider its previous date.
He told the Guardian the best protection comes within two weeks after vaccination, and the current plans do not offer enough time.
He warned: “We will not have enough of the population properly protected by June 21.”
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