Variants mean roadmap remains under review

As first was going to press, the Government was still planning to end the remaining legal limits on social contact in England from 21 June but had warned no decision would be made until the week before, given concerns over new variants.

Thousands of cases of the B.1617.2 variant of concern, first identified in India, have been confirmed across the country, with initial clusters in the North West and London.

Scientists believe the variant does spread more easily, but early data suggests current vaccines still work against it.

At the time of writing, more than 70 per cent of UK adults had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with almost 40 per cent of people fully vaccinated. 

Cllr James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, said: “The new variant is a worrying development and we all need to play our part in ensuring we limit any further transmission.

“Councils and their communities, local NHS colleagues and national government have worked hard to get us to this point and I would urge everyone to listen to local advice to ensure we all do the right things to keep our local communities safe.

“We all want to keep the roadmap on course for the eventual lifting of all restrictions, and the best way to do this is by letting councils get on with local infection control. 

“Councils need local flexibility to deploy all the tools available, which may mean that we need to move to more targeted vaccinations. I would ask that the Government lets us do whatever we need to in local areas to protect our communities.”

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