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UK’s Johnson expected to announce delay on lifting COVID-19 restrictions

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday is expected to announce a delay in lifting COVID-19 restrictions due to the rising threat posed by the Delta variant of the virus.

Reuters reports guidelines issued by the British government in February had originally scheduled social restrictions in the United Kingdom to be lifted “no earlier” than June 21. However, the detection of the Delta variant has caused these plans to be altered. 

The Delta variant, which was first detected in India, has quickly become the dominant strain in the U.K. Health experts believe the strain could be 60 percent more infectious than previous dominant strains of the coronavirus.

Public health experts have warned that the Delta variant will likely become the dominant strain the U.S. as well, possibly endangering areas of the country where vaccination rates have remained low.

Reuters notes that around 56 percent of the U.K.’s adult population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Johnson has so far declined to deny suggestions that the lifting of restrictions could be delayed, Reuters notes. Instead, he has said there is a “serious concern” surrounding rising infection rates and hospitalizations.

The government has emphasized that if any restrictions are lifted, the action would be irreversible, leading officials to be highly cautious in moving forward.

“We’re continuing to look at the data. No final decision has been taken and the right time to fill everybody in on what we’re going to do with … June the 21st is tomorrow,” he told reporters on Sunday after the end of the Group of Seven summit. 

“That’s when we’ll be putting out the whole package of information so that everybody can see it together,” he added.

In May, the British government issued eased COVID-19 guidance, loosening some restrictions in the country. Outdoor and indoor gathering limits were expanded, indoor entertainment venues were permitted to open with COVID-19 safety measures in place, indoor hospitality businesses and restaurants were allowed to reopen and live performances were allowed to recommence. 

Tags Boris Johnson COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom COVID-19 restriction Delta variant U.K.

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