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UK to revisit end of lockdown on June 14

·1-min read

Britain will make a decision on June 14 about whether or not to go ahead with the final phase of its easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Health Minister Matt Hancock says.

The UK on Friday announced that it would accelerate its COVID-19 vaccination program to try to contain a fast-spreading variant first identified in India, which could knock a re-opening of the economy off track.

"We'll make a final decision for step four, which is the biggest step on the roadmap. We'll make that final decision on the 14th of June," Hancock told Sky News.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had warned on Friday the Indian variant could cause "serious disruption" to plans to ease the lockdown and may delay the planned ending of all legal restrictions.

The last of four stages in the removal of lockdown restrictions is currently scheduled for June 21 and could ditch social distancing measures entirely.

The third stage is due to start on Monday. Among other measures, the easing will allow people to hug each other and enable pubs and restaurants to serve customers inside.

Public Health England data shows a more than doubling in cases of the Indian variant, from 520 to 1313, in the country over the last week.

Hancock also said that early data showed vaccines were effective against the newly identified strain.

"There is new, very early, data out from Oxford University. I would stress that this is from the labs, it's not clinical data, and it is very early," Hancock said.

"But it does give us a degree of confidence that the vaccines work against this Indian variant."