Boris Johnson to host press conference TONIGHT as June 21 lockdown lift to be delayed by a month

BORIS Johnson will hold a press conference tonight as the June 21 lockdown lift is set to be delayed by a month.

Fears over rising cases of the Indian Covid variant mean 'Freedom Day' will be pushed back.

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The potential month-long delay means pubs will be restricted to table service, with the return of propping up the bar still some way off.

Theatres and cinemas will continue to be capped at just 50 per cent capacity, and people will be told to continue working from home if they can.

Nightclubs – many of which have been closed since the start of the pandemic – will remain closed.

And gigs will also take a hit, as the current rules allow for capacity limits of 50 per cent – or a maximum of 1,000 people – indoors.

Outdoor gatherings will remain limited to 30 people, meaning summer BBQs and picnics in the park will have to stay small.

And the rule of six will stick around for indoor meet-ups, while face masks and social distancing will continue to be enforced.

Mr Johnson is expected to blame surging Covid cases fuelled by the worrying Delta variant.

At tonight's press conference he is set to announce extending support like furlough for businesses that can't reopen, such as nightclubs.

And he will throw a lifeline to couples by increasing the wedding guests cap.

The PM, who tied the knot with Carrie last month, is desperate not to ruin couples’ happy day.

Ministers were last night thrashing out plans to let more than 30 guests attend so long as they stick to social distancing.

One said: “There is hope a deal can be done.”

Health minister Ed Argar also dropped a strong hint that the PM will announce an easing of restrictions for marriage ceremonies today.

He said Boris was aware that the last year has been "hugely distressing" for couples who have had to cancel their nuptials.

And he added: "I know that that is something the prime minister will be very mindful of.

"He’ll be very sensitive to the situation that those individuals or couples find themselves in."

MPs are set to get a vote on the decision, as it will require an extension of the laws underpinning lockdown.

Rebel Tories are already unhappy at the the news of a further delay, but are unlikely to have enough numbers to defeat the Government.

And Mr Johnson will offer up the deal as a glimmer of good news on a gloomy day for freedom-yearning Brits.

An in another attempt to mitigate criticism, he is also expected to allow for more seated outdoor sporting and cultural events to take place with large crowds.

It comes as the number of Indian/Delta strain cases continues to shoot up, rising by 29,892 in a week.

Amid the rapidly spreading variant, the PM would not promise the month-long delay would be the last.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab echoed his words and said no guarantee could be given as “we are dealing with variants”.

He told Times Radio that the country must not “yo-yo back in and out of measures”.

And a senior UK government source told The Telegraph the message had always been "cautious but irreversible", adding: "That has been our mantra throughout and that continues.

"It would be far worse to have uncertainty and go backwards. It is better to be cautious and have certainty.

"It is one last heave. It is a straight race between the vaccine and the virus.'  

Conservative MPs and business chiefs hit out at the decision to extend lockdown. Rebel Steve Baker urged fellow Tories to oppose it.

Issuing a Great Escape-style appeal, he wrote: “It is the sworn duty of all officer to try to escape.”

UK Hospitality chief Kate Nicholls said a month’s delay would cost businesses £3billion and see 180,000 jobs lost.

She said if one was necessary to meet vaccination targets, it should be “full and final”.

Infectious diseases specialist Dr Andrew Hayward said a substantial third wave of cases was starting to crash over the UK. He said opening up would “fan the flames”, causing it to spread faster.


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