“I am very disappointed that Freedom Day or ‘Step 4’ won’t now happen on Monday June 21st and has been postponed to July 19th.
“Many had been looking forward to Freedom Day and I know businesses and individuals will be unhappy about this decision. We desperately need to get the economy moving again. But the new Delta variant from India is 60% more contagious and more likely to cause serious disease than the original Covid. But at least we have not had to go into reverse and stricter rules have not had to be imposed. We can all be relieved that this Indian variant does not evade the vaccine though a few people with two shots may still catch the disease although it is unlikely. And we can take comfort in that we are way ahead of Europe in our vaccination programme. In the UK, 44% of people have now had two jabs and 17% one jab while in France it is just 21% and 24%.
“I do understand that this is a race. A race between Covid vaccination and the spreading disease. By 19th July, two thirds of all adults and everyone over 50 will have had two vaccine shots and it is expected that by then we can then move to Step 4 and near normality. In the past, the PM has always said that his dates for change are the very earliest; this time he said that if the infection rate does improve quicker than anticipated, Step 4 may come sooner – though I think it unlikely.
“I am pleased that there will be some exemptions from next Monday and this includes weddings over 30 guests and certain other events which will be permitted if there is sufficient social distancing. I know a number of wedding venues in and near Lichfield will be relieved by this.
“This delay won’t be a popular decision, but when the various Step dates were announced last year, the Indian variant was unknown. It would be utterly irresponsible of any Government to ignore this variant and changed infection rates. I hope that, provided no new unknown variant emerges, by the second half of July we will be back to normal though personally I am making no foreign holiday arrangements as quarantines from some countries will still be in place. I suggest others are cautious about overseas travel too.
“We are all going to have to live with Covid by keeping vaccinated, but I hope that in a year, we can look back at this dark period as a distant memory of things past.”