LONDON (REUTERS) - British ministers are considering contingency plans for local lockdowns or a delay to reopening after June 21 in response to concern about the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected in India, The Times newspaper reported on Monday (May 17).
Officials have drawn up plans modelled on the Tier 4 restrictions introduced last year, the paper said. People would be advised to stay at home and non-essential shops and hospitality would be closed if the variant was not brought under control, it added.
The newspaper said businesses in areas subject to the restrictions would receive grants of up to £18,000 (S$34,000) and the scheme would be administered by local authorities, with payments adjusted according to the length of restrictions.
Grants would be made available for the worst-affected sectors, such as nightclubs, and for "mass events" including festivals in another scenario being considered with a delay to reopening after June 21, the report said.
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said the government cannot yet make a judgment on whether to go ahead with a further easing of lockdown restrictions in England on June 21 and wants to see as much data as possible before deciding.
The last of four stages in the removal of lockdown restrictions that was scheduled for June 21 could ditch social distancing measures entirely.
The third stage which starts on Monday (May 17) allows cafes, bars and restaurants to reopen for indoor service and international travel to resume, among other easing measures.
People are also to gather in a groups of up to 30 outdoors while up to six people or two households can meet indoors.
Up to 30 people are allowed to attend weddings, receptions and other life events while the number of people who can attend a funeral is no longer capped.
Britain reported 1,979 new cases of coronavirus on Monday and five deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, while almost 70 per cent of the adult population had at least one dose as of May 14 and 37 per cent have had two shots.