Commenting on the likelihood of fully reopening in the next few weeks, the ITV host predicted the country might be forced to reverse some lockdown measures – reintroducing restrictions laid out in step two and three. Mr Peston’s remarks come as Covid case numbers and deaths have risen in the last seven days and hospitalisations have stopped falling.
He said: “There is in my view no chance of the fourth stage of ending lockdown taking place as planned on June 21.
“It will be delayed by two weeks or four weeks and there will be a debate between now and Monday’s announcement about whether it would actually be wise to reverse some of those freedoms that were given to us in phases two and three.”
Mr Peston added: “We won’t be free of the Covid scourge until the whole world is free of the scourge.”
Potential delays to the June 21 reopening follow in response to concerns over the transmissibility and lethality of the Delta variant.
The Prime Minister said on Wednesday that it was still too early to say whether Britain’s successful vaccine rollout will offer enough protection against the rapid spread of the Delta variant.
He said: “On Monday… we’ll have a look at where we are. I think what everybody can see very clearly is that cases are going up, and in some cases hospitalisations are going up.
“What we need to assess is the extent to which the vaccine rollout, which has been phenomenal, has built up protection in the population in order for us to go ahead to the next stage. And so that’s what we’ll be looking at.”
One report from Imperial College London has speculated that the variant could be up to 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha strain, first discovered in Kent.
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World leaders will gather on June 11-13 for the G7 summit held in Cornwall where premiers are set to discuss the donation and distribution of vaccines to developing countries.
US President Joe Biden, who arrived in Cornwall on Wednesday night, has already pledged to donate 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses over the next two years.
In a speech made shortly after touching down on British soil, Mr Biden claimed we were at an “inflection point in world history”.
He said: “No single nation can alone meet all the challenges we face. The world is changing. We’re in a different place than 10 years ago.”