Tensions are rising within government as the more transmissible strain threatens to derail the roadmap, which should see all legal restrictions lifted from next month.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted this morning he is still ‘confident’ that the schedule can be kept despite anxiety about surging cases in ‘hotspots’.
However, he warned against ‘stigmatising’ those who do not want to get jabs. Summing up the dilemma over June 21 one minister told Politico: ‘The risk is that a small number of idiots ruin it for everyone else.’
Meanwhile, there is swirling speculation that local curbs might needed in England to keep the wider easing on track – with Scotland already targeting restrictions on specific areas.
The wrangling is escalating as Boris Johnson urged families to adopt a ‘heavy dose of caution’ with the ban on indoor socialising and hugs finally ending today.
In a guarded statement before revellers packed into pubs to celebrate the lifting of restrictions, the Prime Minister said the emergence of the Indian strain of coronavirus meant the restored freedoms should be exercised carefully.
Britain recorded four new daily Covid deaths and 1,926 cases yesterday as Matt Hancock urged people to hug ‘carefully’ and get jabbed to prevent the new Indian strain spreading ‘like wildfire’.
The government’s Covid dashboard showed there was an eight per cent increase in cases over last week, as most of the UK prepares to loosen Covid restrictions tomorrow.
Read more: Ministers ‘are split’ over whether to keep lockdown beyond June 21 to protect ‘idiot’ vaccine refuseniks – amid fears local Tiers will have to return in England with Scotland ALREADY targeting areas