British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a delay in easing business restrictions late Monday, because of rising infections due to the delta coronavirus variant, reported AP News.
The delta variant was first found in India and is estimated by some to be at least 60% more contagious than the previous dominant strain. The World Health Organization has designated it the fourth global variant of concern, along with the ones first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil, according to WebMD.
Scientists say the delta variant appears to cause alarmingly severe symptoms.
British health secretary Matt Hancock told a Parliament committee on June 10 that the delta variant is now responsible for 91% of the new cases in the UK, according to The Evening Standard. British scientists are urging the prime minister to be cautious and postpone plans to lift most restrictions on June 21 and there’s growing speculation that the rules could stay in effect until at least July 19.
While hosting the Group of Seven summit over the weekend, Johnson noted that he had grown more pessimistic about the possibility of going forward with the next reopenings.
Many businesses, including pubs and theaters, have remained closed despite the easing in restrictions since reduced capacities have not allowed for them to be financially viable.