The decision on lifting the final lockdown restrictions will not be taken until the middle of June, Matt Hancock has said.
Ministers will wait until June 14 to announce whether step four of Boris Johnson’s roadmap can go ahead as planned on June 21.
Under the plan, all rules limiting social contact are due to be scrapped and businesses that are still mothballed like nightclubs will open up.
But the Health Secretary said it was “too early to say” at the moment whether the last step of unlocking could take place amid fears that the spread of the Indian Covid variant could derail lifting the last lockdown rules.
Nearly 3,000 cases of the Indian strain have been identified, pitting the UK in a race against time to vaccinate the public to prevent its spread.
Mr Hancock told a No10 press conference: “We have set out that we will take step four not before June 21 and we will give a decision on that on June 14, using all the information we have up until then.
“Clearly, every day we are getting more information, getting more information about how many are in hospital in the areas where there are hotspots of this new variant and we are getting more scientific information.”
Scientists are expecting greater clarity on how infectious the new strain is within days.
Read more: Lying psychopaths and Cult-gofers Hancock and Johnson preparing the ground to break the promises of June 21st restriction easing as was always the plan – WE the People end this or these criminals will just go on and on with their fascism. London national freedom march, this Saturday, May 29th – LET THE PEOPLE SING