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COVID: UK prolongs Restrictions amid Delta variant surge

The U.K. will face another four weeks of COVID-19-related restrictions, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday amid concerns of rapid spread of a highly transmissible Delta variant.

Social distancing rules in the UK have been extended by a month as delta variant-driven cases continue to rise.

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Senior ministers have signed off on the decision to delay the lifting of all legal restrictions on social contact.

Britain recorded 7,490 new cases on Sunday, and eight additional deaths. The number of new infections this week in the UK was 50% higher compared to the week before.

That could mean capacity limits for sports, pubs and cinemas will remain, and nightclubs would stay closed.

While the government was planning to ease restrictions on June 21, Johnson announced the U.K. will push back reopening's until July 19 at the latest, amid rising infections and hospitalizations tied to the variant. The additional weeks are hoped to give the National Health Service (NHS) more time to deliver jabs into arms.

"We’ve obviously faced a difficult choice," Johnson said during a press conference. "We can simply keep going with all of step 4 on June 21st, even though there is a real possibility that the virus will outrun the vaccines and thousands more deaths would ensue that could otherwise have been avoided. Or else, we can give the NHS a few more crucial weeks to get those remaining jabs into the arms of those who need them."

A delay would also allow more work to be done on whether vaccines are breaking, or simply weakening, the link between infections and Hospitalizations.

Covid Tally graph
Covid-19 new cases in top 5 countries and the World. -Wikipedia

Cases are growing by 64% each week, doubling in the worst affected areas, while the average number of people admitted to the hospital in England is increasing by 50% week over week, climbing to 61% in the northwest, PM said.

The government's lockdown response plan defines step 4 as eliminating "all legal limits on social contact" and reopening "remaining premises, including nightclubs, and easing the restrictions on large events and performances." Those restrictions will remain in place, with the exception of weddings with over 30 guests where social distancing is in place, among other events.

Officials will monitor the situation daily, and if after two weeks, it's determined that the risk has diminished, the U.K. could see a full reopening sooner.


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