England now expects to move to Step 4 of the government’s roadmap on 19 July 2021. It is worth noting that the data will be reviewed in two weeks’ time, and if the risks have reduced and a move to Step 4 is advised, one week’s notice will be given, making the earliest possible lockdown easing date around the 5 July.

There are some changes that will go ahead on the 21 June.

  • The numbers who can attend weddings, civil partnerships, wakes or commemorative events will be limited by the number of people the venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place, including all guests and venue staff. Table service, face coverings, social distancing and restrictions on dancing and singing remain in place.
  • Large event pilots will continue, with a full list to be announced shortly.
  • Care home visiting, nominated essential care givers will be able to visit care home residents, even if the resident is isolating. Where a resident makes a visit outside of the care home, they will no longer be required to isolate for 14 days on their return. More details are expected by 17 June.
  • Domestic residential visits for children in consistent groups of up to 30 children in out-of-school settings may now go ahead.

Full details of what you can and cannot do as of 21 June are available in the government guidance.

The likely four-week delay is attributed to the failure of the fourth test, which looks at risk. The risk assessment changed fundamentally as a result of the Delta variant and there are fears that its rapid transmission would accelerate further if restrictions were lifted, effectively allowing the virus to outrun the vaccination programme.

Business leaders are calling for an extension to business support packages, which are due to taper out in September. They suggest the extension should be for at least a further 4 weeks, reflecting the duration of the delay.

Tony Danker, CBI Director-General said:

“Continuing restrictions means the Government must urgently revisit the support available. That starts with holding back on the tapering of business rates relief and extending the commercial rent moratorium for those sectors most impacted. A solution must also be found for the hard-pressed international travel sector.”

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chair Mike Cherry comments:

“In all our talks with the Government during this crisis, we’ve made it clear that support must be proportionate to the restrictions in place. These business support measures have been critical to saving thousands of businesses and jobs. But we now must push for more, at a time when so many small firms need that helping hand to survive.”

Cherry suggests an extension to the Business Rates 100 % relief for hospitality, retail and leisure sector due to end on 30 June and a delay to the changes to the employer contributions made under the furlough scheme from 1 July.

So, for now England remains in Step 3 with limits on the numbers who can mix indoors and outdoors, pubs, clubs, theatres and cinemas operating within capacity limits, limited numbers at sporting events, nightclubs remaining closed and the advice to work from home where possible in place. We have also yet to hear the governments findings on the review of social distancing measures, including the use of face coverings which are likely to impact on Step 4 measures.