FREEDOM Day must go ahead on Monday, a minister declared today – but warned the Government "of course" stands ready to reimpose lockdown.
Solicitor General Lucy Frazer insisted "now is the time" to ditch the legal restrictions of the past 17 months, saying: "If we don't do it now, when?"
Concern over the rapid spread of the Delta variant is mounting and yesterday 63 deaths were recorded – the highest since March.
Boris Johnson has begged Brits not to go wild and take the lifting of lockdown as an excuse to "have a great jubilee" next week.
And this morning Ms Frazer warned: "If we get into a situation where it's unacceptable and we do need to put back further restrictions then that of course is something that Government will look at."
In key Covid developments:
- Top Gov scientist Chris Whitty warned "we're not out of the woods" yet and warned of future lockdowns
- More than 520,000 people were pinged by the NHS Covid app last week
- Ministers vowed to tweak the app and make announcements soon
- Daily cases spiked to highest since January with 48,553 testing positive in 24 hours
Despite the increasing gloom Ms Frazer said the Government felt now was the time to swap Covid laws with strict guidance and a big dollop of caution.
She told Sky News: "We're in an environment where around 80 per cent of people have had their first vaccine, and over two thirds have had that second vaccine.
"We know that we have weakened the link between the infection rates and the hospitalisations and deaths.
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"So now is a good time to loosen those restrictions because if we don't do it now, when are we going to do it."
Ministers are reluctant to delay Freedom Day again after already extending lockdown for four weeks past the original June 21 waypoint.
Instead the Government has tempered the grand unlocking with a flurry of fresh guidance they are encouraging people to follow from next Monday.
It includes wearing masks on public transport and in shops, and asking hospitality venues to ask for vaccine passports on the door.
Ms Frazer also vowed to fix the "pingdemic" which is forcing thousands into isolation after being alerted by the NHS Covid app.
A record 520,000 people were pinged last week. Employers grappling with staff shortages are furiously demanding changes are made.
Some 900 workers at the Nissan factory in Sunderland – 10 per cent of the workforce – are currently isolating.
People are even reporting being pinged through walls if their neighbours catch Covid.
CBI President Lord Bilimoria today warned the "pingdemic" was "wrecking the economy", while pub chain boss Hugh Osmond branded the app "absolute chaos".
The requirement to self-isolate when alerted will be dropped for double-jabbed Brits from August 16 – but ministers have been warned changes are desperately needed now.
Downing St has vowed to look at tweaking the app to reduce the sensitivity, and today Ms Frazer said an announcement would be made shortly.
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