However, Downing Street said that data emerging over the coming week will be “crucial” in deciding whether all legal coronavirus restrictions can end as hoped.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said on June 9 that coronavirus cases are “clearly rising” and that Mr Johnson is reviewing a range of data to make a decision on the further lifting of restrictions on June 21.
He told Sky News: “The Prime Minister is reviewing the data, and more data is coming in, which is very important.
“We created this five-week period between the stages of the roadmap and that has actually proved invaluable on this occasion, because it’s a finely balanced decision.”
He added that the Government will look not just at whether cases are rising, but the link to hospitalisations and ultimately to death.
“So the Prime Minister is reviewing that ahead of the decision point, which is going to be June 14 – at that point of course he will let everybody know what the ultimate decision is,” he added.
Here we look at what might happen if Step 4 of the roadmap is delayed.
What is due to happen on June 21?
According to the Government’s roadmap, Step 4 would see all legal limits on social contact removed.
It is hoped that the last indoor venues which remain closed, including nightclubs, will reopen and restrictions on large events and performances will cease to apply.
Why might lockdown easing be delayed?
Mr Hancock said the emergence of the Indian (also known as Delta) variant, which is believed to be up to 40 per cent more transmissible than the Kent strain, had made the “calculation” on whether to proceed with unlocking “more difficult”.
Scientists suggested that a steadily rising number of hospitalisations should delay the final stage of the roadmap.
Downing Street said the data emerging over the coming week would be “crucial” in deciding whether the remaining restrictions could end. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the new data will help show “whether or not the excellent vaccine rollout programme has sufficiently severed that link between the increase in cases … and that subsequently leading to hospitalisations and deaths”.
What could happen instead?
Mr Johnson is reportedly considering delaying the end of restrictions by at least two weeks in order to allow more people to be fully vaccinated.
A two-week delay until July 5 has been under discussion by scientists and civil servants, and after being queried about the delay, the Health Secretary reminded the public that the June 21 date was the earliest at which the government would take Step 4 – rather than being set in stone.
Mr Hancock also implied that some measures may remain in place after June 21. This could include further working from home, social distancing in bars and restaurants and mask wearing.
If the Government decides not to proceed with Step 4 of the roadmap, some indoor venues, such as nightclubs, would also not be allowed to reopen.
Limits on audiences in theatres, cinemas and sports events may also remain in place.
What are the scientists saying?
A Sage member said this week would be “absolutely critical” in determining whether the June 21 unlocking would go ahead as planned, but added that “we certainly don’t want to go on delaying forever”.
Professor Dame Anne Johnson said more data was needed to make a decision. She told Sky News that there had been a “significant uptick” in the number of cases in the past week or two, meaning that reopening as planned would be a “very finely judged decision”.