The Government’s final stage of the roadmap out of lockdown planned for 21 June has been delayed until 19 July.

All legal limits on social contact were due to be lifted in a week’s time, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that with the number of cases growing by 64 per cent per week and in some areas it is doubling, it’s better to be cautious and not move out of Step 4 until more people have had the Covid vaccine.

He also talked about how the average number of people being admitted to hospital has increased by 50% per week on week and by 61 per cent in the North West with his main concern being that it’s possible that ‘the virus will outrun the vaccines and that thousands more deaths would ensue that could otherwise have been avoided.”

For those planning a wedding though, there will be a relaxation and from 21 June they can go ahead with more than 30 guests even though restrictions will remain. The same relaxation will also apply to wakes and commemorative events.

In his announcement, Mr. Johnson emphasised how much vaccination reduces transmission and how two doses provides a very high degree of protection against serious illness and death.

He announced that by 19 July the aim is for two thirds of the adult population including everyone over 50 to have had 2 doses of a Covid vaccine, as well as all those who are vulnerable, all the frontline health and care workers and everyone over 40 who received their first dose by mid-May.

Offering 2 doses for those over 40 will be accelerated and the target to give every adult in the country a first dose by 19th July including young people over the age of 18 will be brought forward. 23 and 24 year olds will be invited to book a vaccination from today to reduce the risk of transmission among groups that mix the most.

The situation will be monitored every day and if after 2 weeks it is felt that the risk has diminished proceeding to step 4 and full opening will take place sooner. The government also emphasised today that we will not need any more than weeks to achieve what’s needed.

This all means that the current legal limits on social contact will remain in place for at least another five weeks. People will still be able to meet indoors with up to 6 people or 2 households (each household can include a support bubble) and have outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people.

Meeting friends in bars, restaurants and parks can all still continue of course and at www.welcometosheffield.co.uk there’s a What’s On guide to Covid-safe summer events and activities available for people of all ages.

Our Libraries will continue to offer a browsing and a pre booked computers service. The details are here.

Indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and businesses will still be able to take place with Covid-secure measures in place. Indoor and outdoor attractions and hospitality venues including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, museums, children’s indoor play areas, zoos, theme parks will all remain open, as well as saunas and steam rooms.

Attendance at funerals will continue to depend on how many people a Covid-secure venue can safely accommodate. In Sheffield City Council-run funeral buildings this will remain at 25 mourners for indoor services. There will continue to be no limits on the number of people who can attend outdoor burial services and more details are on our affected services page.

In terms of travel, holiday accommodation will remain open (including hotels and B&Bs) and can be used by groups of up to 6 people or two households including a bubble, if eligible. Overnight stays in England are allowed but only for up to 6 people or 2 households. International travel will still be allowed with a traffic light system that must be followed when returning depending on whether people are returning from a green, amber or red list country.

Greg Fell, Director of Public Health for Sheffield said: “It’s the right decision to delay this final stage of the plan.  We’ve all worked incredibly hard to get to this point but we mustn’t get it wrong now when new variants are spreading across the UK, mutating and doing their best to survive.

“As ever, my thanks go out to people across the city for their patience. I know it’s hard waiting longer for all restrictions to be lifted.

“It seems to me the best course is for each one of us to keep going cautiously because what we do personally will be a part of either permanently suppressing Covid until we can exit or seeing repeated variants and surges. As we are all well aware, it is in everybody’s interest to keep spread low to protect individuals and protect the economy.

“My main message now is to get tested regularly, if you can, and if you get symptoms, please get tested and self-isolate until you get your results to protect those around you. Ignoring symptoms and not isolating if you have symptoms will definitely make our recovery slower.

“As I’ve said before, our vaccination programme is going really well in Sheffield and the impact of this going forward is huge. We’ll be able to do more of the things we love from pubs and parties, to holidays and hugging. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please do get your appointment booked.

“These vaccines have been in development for years with similar viruses and are safe and effective. Mild side effects such as a sore arm, feeling tired and flu like symptoms from vaccines are common. Not everyone gets them and if they do, they should only last a few days.

“They are no worse than a hangover or a sleepless night and the effects of COVID can last much longer. I’d urge young people over 18 to book their vaccine to reduce the possibility of them passing the virus onto others. We must remember that people in this age group can get ill from Covid.”

67% of the adult population in Sheffield have had their first dose and 46% of those people have had their second dose. I’d urge young people over 18 to book their vaccine to reduce the possibility of them passing the virus onto others. We must remember that this age group can get ill from Covid.

Greg added: “We will inevitably see cases rise with different variants presenting themselves to us over time, so we must remain vigilant. New variants are spreading across the UK and they will mutate in their attempt to survive. Travel will lead to variants spreading so remember that if you travel from abroad, isolate when you get home if you’re told to. I can’t stress enough how important that is.”