The coronavirus Indian variant hotspots have been revealed and there are fears there is now a “close to nil” chance of the June 21 unlocking happening.
There’s also talk of local lockdowns being reintroduced in England, which would see pubs, restaurants and shops closed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be gathering his cabinet for crunch talks, with ministers drafting emergency plans.
So where are the coronavirus Indian variant hotspots?
There are now more than 2,300 cases of the Indian variant in England.
Numbers have quadrupled in just 10 days and account for at least one in five infections.
Experts say the strain will become dominant in the UK in a matter of days.
Indian variant hotspots have been identified as Blackburn, Bolton, Nottingham, Bedford, Leicester and Sefton in Merseyside.
So will there be a return of local lockdowns?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a statement yesterday (May 17) that 483 of the Indian variant cases were in Bolton and Blackburn and it was now dominant there.
As as result, Environment Secretary George Eustice refused to rule out local lockdowns.
He said: “If we do have a deterioration in some of these areas then of course we can’t rule out that we would put in place certain local lockdowns.”
The PM himself has stated, however, that local lockdowns are a “last resort”.
It is also possible some of the easing we’ve done will have to be reversed.
There are now said to be plans being drafted that could put parts of the country into a situation similar to last year’s Tier 4.
This is pretty much the equivalent of a full lockdown.
And it’s thought this could be a way to relax the rest of the country while some local restrictions remain in place.
‘Close to nil’ chance of June 21 reopening happening
However, there are fears that the next stage of the roadmap due to take place on June 21 could be delayed.
In fact, a government source told ITV News that the chances of all restrictions being lifted next month was now “close to nil”.
The source added that some of the loosening that took place earlier this week could be rolled back, too.
This could see an end to the rule of six socialising indoors and in bars and restaurants.
The source said: “It is clear some social distancing will have to be retained, not everything we’ve set out for 21 June is likely to happen,.
“But it is also possible some of the easing we’ve done will have to be reversed.”
The PM also appeared undecided about the unlocking.
His spokesperson said yesterday: “We are not at a point where we can make a definitive judgment.”
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