DOWNING Street has released a statement following the suggestion that the easing of all lockdown restrictions may not take place later this month.

Number 10 said the data emerging over the coming week will be "crucial" in deciding whether all legal limits can be removed on June 21.

It comes as the Health Secretary Matt Hancock this week said the Government is "absolutely open" to delaying the roadmap if variant data suggests it should. 

Currently, the country is under step three of the four-part roadmap out of national lockdown restrictions, which were introduced in January.

But this afternoon, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said as things stand there is "nothing" currently to suggest the fourth step - easing of all restrictions - cannot go ahead.

The Northern Echo:

The spokesperson said: “There still remains that there is nothing in the data currently to suggest Step 4 can’t go ahead at the earliest date.

“But we do need to look very closely at the data over this coming week, which will be crucial to decide and really to get a sense of the data, particularly on hospitalisations and whether or not the excellent vaccine rollout programme has sufficiently severed that link between the increase in cases, which we always expected to happen, particularly after Step 3, and that subsequently leading to hospitalisations and deaths.”

Asked if there is evidence of a third wave, the spokesman said: “We can see that the cases are rising in the UK, that is both due to the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant, and to a certain extent the opening up of measures taken in Step 3.”

The Northern Echo:

Mr Hancock was pressed on whether the June 21 removal of restrictions could be postponed if the Indian variant data “gets bad” at the weekend.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We are absolutely open to doing that if that’s what needs to happen.

“We said in the road map that June 21 is the date by which we would not take Step 4 before that date and that we would look at the data.

“That is exactly what we are doing, so the road map was set up in order to be able to take these sort of changes into account.”