England lockdown easing postponed until 19 July

social distancing
© Lee Curtis

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the news in a press conference today (14 June).

The rumoured postponement of the UK’s lockdown measures has been confirmed. Speaking in a press conference today (14 June), Boris Johnson told the nation that existing measures will remain in place in England until 19 July. The delay will enable people aged over 50, vulnerable individuals and all frontline healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated before restrictions are lifted.

He said: “If, after two weeks, we’ve concluded that the risk is diminished then we reserve the possibility of proceeding to step four and a full opening sooner.” During the conference, the PM also mentioned 29 July as a lockdown exit date, but later added that he’s “confident” that a delay after 19 July won’t be necessary.

The UK was due to move into the fourth and final step of its roadmap out of current Covid-19 measures on 21 June. The move into the next phase of the government’s roadmap would have allowed for clubs and festivals to reopen and capacity across hospitality, sports and late-night sectors to increase. Many venues and businesses had begun to prepare for the relaunch, and many had plans to reopen for the first time since measures were introduced last spring.

The extension to England’s lockdown measures will be put to a Commons vote this month. According to the BBC, it could trigger a large Conservative backbench rebellion.

The NTIA (Night Time Industries Association) has responded to the PM’s delay: “This is a hugely devastating blow for the very industries that have been hardest hit by this pandemic; in a very real sense, the Prime Minister has ‘switched the lights off’ for an entire sector.”

“The government must understand the human impact of this decision, not only considering the public health challenges of the virus but also the people within our sector who are suffering terribly and the real health risks that this represents. This is particularly important given the overwhelming confidence in the vaccination rollout, and the ability for our sector to deliver Covid safe and regulated environments.”

Earlier today, the NTIA said that one in four businesses will not survive longer than one month without further government support, and 50% will survive for no longer than two months. The figures come from a recent NTIA flash poll.

Furthermore, the NTIA said this week that it would legally “challenge” the UK government if the proposed lifting of Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June in England was delayed. It vowed to pursue legal action if night time economy businesses and venues – many of which have been shuttered since March 2020 – were unable to reopen on 21 June. According to the NTIA, 95% of businesses have already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen from the previously proposed date.