THE GOVERNMENT has delayed the end of lockdown until July 19 in England, due to fears over rising cases of the Indian Covid variant.
For holidaymakers, that means no big group holidays for the next month at least, with fears that the delay could even be extended into August.
The 21st of this month was supposed to be Freedom Day, which included the final unlocking of the travel industry in England and an end to limits on social distancing.
Currently, it is legal to stay overnight in the same property as up to six people from different households or an unlimited number of people from two households.
But the cap was set to be removed, with no limits on the number of people sharing a holiday home together or staying overnight in someone's house.
The current limit is set to stay until July 19 now though, with the government reassessing the Covid data again by the middle of next month.
The government's hope is that the proposed month-long extension will get 10 million second jabs into arms, extending maximum protection to 75 per cent of Brits.
The Prime Minister did concede to a "two-week break clause", meaning the lifting of restrictions could go ahead on July 5 if hospitalisations don't significantly rise.
He said: "I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer. We will hold off until July 19."
"I am confident we won't need more than four weeks – it's unmistakable clear that the vaccines are working – but now is the time to ease off the accelerator.
"We have the chance to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people."
But some ministers fear that with cases spiralling, the health situation could go the other way and curbs will need to stay in place for even longer.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab warned yesterday he couldn't provide an "absolute guarantee" restrictions will definitely be lifted on July 19.
Today's delay only applies to England, as Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have different Covid regulations.
In Wales, people can stay overnight with their extended household – which can be up to three households, in Scotland six people from up to three households can stay overnight together and in Northern Ireland, up to six people from two households can stay overnight together.
Today's delayed roadmap date doesn't make any difference to foreign holidays, with the traffic light system for international travel approved separately.
Another update is expected for the UK's green list on June 21, but there isn't much change expected.
The Prime Minister said the most important thing to still do was to "follow the red, amber and green" traffic light system.
Last week, Brit holidaymakers were force to rush home from Portugal after the country was moved from the green to amber lists.
Desperate Brits faced a mad dash to return before 4am on June 8, with countless tourists snapped looking fed-up as they hurry home after shelling out for pricey plane seats.
Rules on social distancing, working from home and wearing masks are also set to continue after June 21, with Step 4 of the government's roadmap out of lockdown delayed.
A potential month-long delay to the easing of restrictions means pubs will be restricted to table service, with ordering drinks at the bar still some way off.
Theatres and cinemas will continue to be capped at just 50 per cent capacity, and people will be told to continue working from home if they can.
Nightclubs – many of which have been closed since the start of the pandemic – will remain closed.
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