With the more infectious Delta variant pushing coronavirus cases up in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided to postpone the relaxation of restrictions scheduled for June 21. The new date for lifting the last limitations is July 19, the BBC reports. The change will provide "a few more crucial weeks" to administer vaccine, Johnson said at a press conference Monday. "By being cautious now, we have the chance in the next four weeks to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people," Johnson said, per CNN. The situation will be reviewed in two weeks, the prime minister said, and if it's encouraging, "We reserve the possibility of proceeding to step four and a full opening sooner." On the other hand, Johnson said the full reopening could delayed again.
The two vaccines used most often in the UK are effective against the variant, Public Health England said Monday, and more than half of adults are fully vaccinated. Still, health officials are concerned, given the way the Delta variant is spreading, that dropping restrictions next week could help bring about a return of first-wave hospitalization numbers. One sore point has been weddings, with people waiting 15 months for large crowds to be legal. The limit on 30 guests is being lifted now, but other restrictions remain, including a ban on indoor dance floors. Despite the postponement, many public events will go ahead as scheduled, including some Euro 2020 games and the Wimbledon tennis championship. Anyone attending will have to show a recent negative coronavirus test or proof of vaccination. Nightclubs will not yet reopen. (Read more coronavirus stories.)