The government is planning to cut wait times between Covid-19 vaccination doses for over 40s from twelve weeks to eight weeks as ministers battle to save ‘Freedom Day’ on June 21.
However, officials are also reportedly drawing up secret plans to delay the end of the country’s coronavirus restrictions by two weeks until July after the UK’s daily coronavirus infections rose again, with the number of people in the country with Covid-19 rising by 75 percent.
Social distancing could also be retained, according to The Sun, as could limits on the number of people allowed inside venues, raising concerns over England’s hosting some of the delayed Euro 2020 football tournament.
Industry chiefs also warned that without the total removal of restrictions, pubs remain ‘unviable’ and could lose millions in potential trade during the tournament and Britain’s warmest weeks. According to The Daily Telegraph, over-25s will be offered their first doses of the vaccine from next week as the government races against the clock to beat Covid-19 variants.
On Friday, ministers said they were doing ‘everything we possible can’ to speed up the process of inoculating the public, ahead of a crucial decision over whether ease restrictions on June 21. The acceleration of second doses for over-50s has already been announced by the government, but the change is now expected to be announced for those over-40 when the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) formally recommends the measure.
Speaking to The Telegraph, a government source said ministers ‘want to double-dose as soon as possible’, and hope that the acceleration with keep ‘freedom day’ as June 21. However, the possibility of a two week delay to the lifting of restrictions is also being discussed, according to the newspaper, with a quicker vaccination programme potentially allowing over-40s to receive their second doses by July 5 — two weeks after June 21 — amid concerns over the Indian ‘Delta’ variant.