Fate of June 21 plan won't be sealed until next week, says health secretary

Health Secretary Matt Hancock makes a statement to the House of Commons in Westminster, London, abou

Health Secretary Matt Hancock makes a statement to the House of Commons in Westminster, London, about the Covid-19 pandemic. - Credit: PA

Britain will not learn whether the government will press on with plans to lift Covid-19 restrictions on June 21 until at least a week before at the very earliest - the health secretary has said.

Health secretary Matt Hancock gave his statement on the latest development on the UK’s battle against the coronavirus to the House of Commons on Monday, including an update on the much-anticipated date of June 21. 

Under the current road map out of lockdown the date will see nightclubs re-open, large scale events held and all but a few restrictions completely lifted.

But he said the relevant data is not available and it is too early to make a decision on whether or not restrictions would lift completely. 

Instead, the decision is set to be announced this time next week on June 14.  

Despite there being no news on "Freedom Day" though, Mr Hancock said the vaccination programme continues to be rolled out and as of Tuesday under 30s will be called for their first jabs. 

From Tuesday June 8, 25 to 29-year-olds will receive text messages asking them to book it in.

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Speaking at the House of Commons, Mr Hancock also urged parents with children in secondary schools – who have returned to school after half term - to take twice-weekly lateral flow tests, in a bid to keep a lid on rising cases. 

He stressed that cases are rising fastest among older schoolchildren.

He also revealed that tests have shown the Pfizer vaccine is safe for children aged 12 to 15 and the government will listen to clinical advice.

This comes as the new data shows the Delta strain of the virus has become the most prevalent within the UK.

Mr Hancock said that out of the 126 people who were admitted to hospital with this new strain, 83 were unvaccinated, 28 had one dose and only three had both doses. 

But as the younger age groups are starting to be targeted to receive their jabs, the health secretary said there is no room for complacency.

Adding that jabs remain "the best way to get freedom back" and that beating this pandemic is an "international imperative" as well as a "domestic duty" that falls on each and every one of us.