Boris Johnson says no ‘conclusive’ evidence to delay road map out of lockdown despite concerns over the Indian variant
Boris Johnson has said there is no “conclusive” evidence to deviate from the road map out of lockdown despite concerns over the Indian coronavirus variant.
Step four – the last step in the government’s roadmap of easing lockdown restrictions – is due to go ahead on June 21 but the Prime Minister confirmed in the latest Downing Street briefing that this is now under threat due to the new variant.
The Indian variant is one of four strains designated as “of concern” by UK authorities, as well as those which emerged from Kent, South Africa and Brazil.
If outbreaks are limited, the government could go ahead with step four while keeping some areas under restrictions, similar to that of the controversial tiers system.
Mr Johnson said the “wall of defences” built up by the vaccination programme meant “I don’t see anything conclusive at the moment to say that we need to deviate from the road map”.
But, he added: “We’ve got to be cautious and we are keeping everything under very close observation.
“We’ll know a lot more in a few days’ time.”
The Prime Minister pushed ahead with the easing on May 17 which saw indoor hospitality reopen for the first time this year.
According to Public Health England (PHE), data shows a steep rise in cases associated with B1617.2 which has been designated as a “variant of concern” with 1,313 confirmed cases of the variant in the UK.
Boris Johnson said data from hotspots including Bolton, Blackburn, Bedford and Sefton were being examined to find out more about the impact of the variant.
When asked whether local lockdowns could be used, Mr Johnson said: “We’ve just got to be cautious about the way we approach it and we will be letting people know as much as we can, as soon as we can.
“But at the moment we don’t see anything conclusive that makes us think we have to deviate from the road map.”