What would it mean if England’s June 21 ‘Freedom Day’ is delayed?

<p>Nightclubs could reopen from next month</p>

Nightclubs could reopen from next month

(PA Wire)
13:51pm, Mon 07 Jun 2021
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Rising numbers of coronavirus cases and the emergence of the new, more transmissible Delta variant have put the final stage of lockdown easing in England in jeopardy.

Here the PA news agency looks at what might happen if Step 4 of the Government road map is delayed.

– What was due to happen on so-called freedom day?

According to the Government road map out of lockdown, Step 4 – due to take place on June 21 – would see all legal limits on social contact removed.

Revellers at a Liverpool nightclub for a Covid safety pilot event in April (PA Wire)

It is hoped that the last handful of indoor venues that remain closed, including nightclubs, would reopen and restrictions on large events and performances would cease to apply.

– Why might it be delayed?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the emergence of the Indian variant – also known as the Delta variant and found to be 40% more transmissible than the Kent strain – has made the “calculation” on whether to proceed with unlocking “more difficult”.

Scientists have also suggested that steadily rising numbers of people in hospitals should also delay the final stage of restriction easing.

Downing Street has said the data emerging over the coming week will be “crucial” in deciding whether the remaining restrictions can end.

– So what might happen now?

It has been reported that Boris Johnson is considering delaying freedom day by at least two weeks in order to allow more people to be fully vaccinated against the Delta variant.

UK local areas recording week-on-week rise in Covid-19 rates (PA Graphics)

Mr Hancock also implied that some measures may remain in place after June 21.

This could include further working from home, social distancing in bars and restaurants and mask wearing.

– And what might not happen?

If the Government decides not to proceed with Step 4 of the road map, some indoor venues such as nightclubs would not be allowed to reopen as planned.

Limits on audiences in theatres and cinemas may also remain in place.

– How could this affect businesses?

Hospitality sector bosses have warned that delaying freedom day would push many struggling businesses “closer to the cliff edge”.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: “The ongoing uncertainty around the road map is causing significant distress to hospitality businesses and operators.

A quiet high street in Guildford (PA Wire)

“It is crucial that the Government commits to dropping the restrictions on June 21. Any delay in the road map would have a devastating effect on an already fragile sector.”

– What is allowed currently?

The Government pushed ahead with Step 3 of the road map on May 17, meaning most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors were dropped.

People are allowed to meet others inside too, though the rule of six or two households still applies.

Inside dining returned in restaurants and customers are no longer required to purchase substantial meals with alcoholic drinks, nor to stick to a curfew.

Gyms reopened and certain larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues were allowed to resume.

Up to 30 people are able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals.

– And what about in the other UK nations?

As of Monday in Wales, groups of up to 30 people can meet outdoors, including in private gardens, while up to three households will be able to meet indoors.

The Welsh Government is yet to give a date for the reopening of larger venues providing live performances or for events such as outdoor music festivals.

Plans to ease lockdown restrictions in much of Scotland have been paused, but the rules in Glasgow, which remained at Level 3 for longer, were relaxed on Saturday.

Restaurants, cafes, bars and other hospitality venues in Northern Ireland can operate indoors, with six people allowed to sit together from unlimited households with table service only.

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