The government is expected to hold a press conference next week to announce whether the next stage of the roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead on 21 June.
Concerns have been steadily growing over the Delta variant’s increased transmissibility and whether it could prevent the next phase of restrictions being lifted.
The press conferences are generally fronted by either the prime minister Boris Johnson, or health secretary Matt Hancock, with support from relevant government officials and scientists including chief medical officer Chris Whitty.
When is Boris Johnson’s next announcement?
It is not yet clear when the next government press conference will take place, though it is expected fairly imminently.
There will almost certainly be an announcement on 14 June, the deadline the government has set for a decision on the 21 June unlocking.
Ministers have generally been optimistic about the current plans to move to the next stage of the roadmap out of lockdown on 21 June, but they have fallen short of guaranteeing it.
Instead they have tended to state that the situation is fluid and that data will be the deciding factor.
While the UK recorded its first day without Covid deaths in more than a year yesterday, the spread of the Delta, or Indian variant, still poses a major concern to policy-makers.
Debates are ongoing in government about whether plans for the lifting of restrictions may need to be suspended.
Matt Hancock recently said it was “too early to say” whether restrictions could be lifted.
Government adviser and microbiologist Professor Ravi Gupta has said that the lifting of restrictions should be delayed by a few weeks. There have been recent reports which suggest the government is considering moving back lifting of restrictions two weeks, to 5 July.
What was said at the last announcement?
The last government press conference took place on 27 May.
Boris Johnson’s former aide Dominic Cummings levelled a series of explosive allegations at health secretary Matt Hancock, among others, the day before.
Hancock led that conference, in which he warned the public to “remain vigilant” amid a rise in the number of Delta variant infections.
Joined by the UK Health Security Agency chief executive, Dr Jenny Harries, Hancock said: ”As we set our roadmap we always expected cases to rise. We must remain vigilant.
“The aim is to break the link to hospitalisation and death so that cases alone no longer require stringent restrictions on people’s lives.
“The critical thing to watch is the link from the number of cases, to how many people end up in hospital.
He added: “The increase in cases remains focused in hotspots, and we’re doing all we can to tackle this variant, wherever it flares up.”
What restrictions are due to be eased on 21 June?
As per the roadmap out of lockdown laid out by the government back in March, the final stage of restrictions being lifted is due to take place on 21 June.
The last stage of the roadmap came on schedule on 17 May.
This saw pubs and restaurants able to fully reopen and the rule of six applied indoors.
While this last round of easing allowed people in England to regain significant freedoms, the next stage will restore society as close to normality as it has been since the virus emerged last year.
The limitations of social contact are due to come to an end completely.
Mass-spectator events will also be able to go ahead as normal and nightclubs will reopen after more than a year.