A devastating blow has been dealt to Islanders and Island businesses alike as the easing of lockdown restrictions has been delayed by another 4 weeks – to Monday 19th July.
The Prime Minister has blamed the Delta variant of COVID-19 for pushing back ‘Freedom Day’, which would have seen legal restrictions lifted in full for the first time since March 2020 on 21st June – just 7 days away. It was only 2 weeks ago that Boris said he could see no reason to deviate from the unlocking roadmap, giving hope of a June unlocking.
Today’s news means that Island businesses will have to continue operating at reduced capacity and with other restrictions such as face masks and table service in place, which will no doubt bring dread to business owners who are just about covering their overheads. It now seems likely that businesses will have just 6 weeks to make the most of the summer trade before kids go back to school in September.
The Isle of Wight remains one of the safest places in the country in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, with very few cases present and almost no deaths or hospitalisations. With this in mind, for residents – especially those double vaccinated – the news of yet another extension to lockdown will be all the more frustrating.
Vaccination will open to 23 and 24-year-olds from tomorrow (Tuesday), it has been announced.
There is no doubt that more events will now be cancelled. However, there is good news for those looking to get married as the limit of 30 people has been lifted, as long as social distancing remains in place. This rule applies to wakes too.
Freedom Day pushed back to 19th July – Key Points:
- Restrictions may be lifted sooner following a review on 28th June
- Over 40s will now receive their second jab after 8 weeks not 12
- Vaccinations open to 23 and 24-year-olds from tomorrow
- All Over 18s should receive at least 1 vaccine dose by 19th July
- Rule of 6 to remain in place both in private homes and in businesses
- Social distancing and face masks still required
- Hospitality still restricted to table service and the rule of 6
- Cinemas, theatres and other indoor entertainment limited to 50% capacity
- Outdoor gatherings remain limited to 30 people
- Islanders to remain working from home as the default
- Nightclubs to remain closed
For many there is confusion as to why any restrictions remain in place with over 41,5million people vaccinated across the UK – almost 30million of which have received both doses of the COVID vaccine. For months the country was told that the race was on to protect the NHS and protect those over 50 – but now it seems the Government are set on vaccinating everyone before lifting restrictions – with no guarantee that life will return to normal on 19th July.
Nationally, just 3 deaths have been recorded in the past 24 hours.