Ministers are planning to axe practically all coronavirus restraints on July 19 as the nation moves towards herd immunity despite growing infection numbers.
Social distancing, face masks and work from home guidance are all expected to be ditched as England makes a climactic push back towards normality on so-called Freedom Day.
Boris Johnson is getting ready to give the green light for the complete unlocking after internal government assessments warned that keeping even limited restrictions for longer would spell catastrophe for the hospitality trade and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
However, it’s understood there’s virtually no chance the date will be carried forward to July 5 despite tremendous pressure from Tory MPs.
The plan could put England on a significantly altered course from Scotland after Nicola Sturgeon stayed the latest stage of its loosening for another three weeks and suggested that mask-wearing was expected to continue into the autumn.
Professor Neil Ferguson, known as Professor Lockdown, gave an encouraging view of the emerging data, saying that while cases were increasing, hospitalisations and mortality weren’t seeing a notable increase.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it appeared two doses of vaccine were giving a high level of protection against severe disease.
Boris Johnson sensationally delayed Freedom Day from June 21 amid concerns about cases of the Indian or Delta variant in the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister insisted that the additional four weeks was required to buy time to get more people double jabbed before the final set of restrictions were lifted.
A senior Government source told a newspaper outlet that ministers get as close to normal as possible on July 19, with emphasis on personal responsibility rather than legal restrictions.
The United Kingdom recorded another 11,625 coronavirus cases, the most since mid-February.
Other encouraging data unveiled the country has moved one step closer to herd immunity, with almost nine in 10 adults now having antibodies against COVID.
The major Office for National Statistics (ONS) blood testing survey highlighted the success of the UK’s immense vaccination campaign, which is now open to every adult in all four home nations. Around 60 per cent of over 18s (31.5 million) are now completely jabbed.
While daily infections have increased by 51.5 per cent in a week, hospitalisations, which linger behind cases by many weeks because of how long it takes for infected patients to fall seriously unwell have risen by a fifth. There are still just 1,380 COVID inpatients across the United Kingdom.
I’m sure something else will happen between now and then, perhaps another kind of variant or something, it’s just never-ending. Perhaps we’ll have the galactic variant, black hole variant or even button moon variant, they are so many possibilities.
You can bet your bottom dollar that another variant will rear its unsightly head to delay Freedom Day, and with the dread of winter mounting, this might mean that we don’t get out of lockdown anytime soon.
We might even get the Uranus variant, no need to state where they can stick that one!
What we need is a bit of reality, which has overtaken our wishful thinking and now it’s all become a bit Alice In Wonderland, with Boris Johnson saying “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date”.