Calls from experts to postpone England’s unlocking on June 21 are growing amid fears the Indian variant is fuelling a third wave of potentially “explosive” Covid infections.
Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said with the UK in the grip of an “early” third wave the Government should consider pushing back the June 21 target “by a few weeks”.
Environment Secretary George Eustice, asked about the possibility of a delay to freedom from restrictions, told the BBC ministers “can’t rule anything out”.
It comes as the WHO has renamed Covid variants to simplify language, and remove stigma. The Kent variant will now be called Alpha, for example, and the Indian variant, Beta.
– Ireland extends main COVID-19 supports for businesses
Ireland will extend the main financial supports for firms hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including wage subsidies, grants, tax debt warehousing and a commercial rates waiver, the government said on Tuesday.
The wage subsidy scheme, which is supporting some 300,000 jobs, will be extended until the end of the year and be available to any business whose turnover is down 30 per cent or more compared with 2019, the government said.
New grants will also be available to firms whose turnover is still down by 75 per cent on 2019 levels from September, it added.
The government will also maintain a lower 9 per cent VAT rate for the hospitality sector until September 2022, while also phasing out temporary coronavirus-related jobless payments from September to February 2022.