Enhanced testing in Lancashire to assist data for impending lockdown unlocking announcement but Blackpool leisure industry unsure on what any delay will look like
The end of lockdown on June 21 is hanging in the balance but with the Government indicating there will be no further announcement until Monday the hospitality and leisure industry are once again left speculating what might happen instead?
The road-map out of lockdown restrictions easing across the UK has so far gone according to plan with the gradual lifting of rules on both April 12 and May 17 but with rising cases of the Indian variant of the virus across large sections of the UK, calls to delay the June 21 plan, dubbed 'Freedom Day' are ramping up amongst scientific advisers.
Any amendment of the plans could have further ramifications for many of the resort's entertainment spaces and attractions venues forced to continue with capacity and social distancing measures in place for the busy summer period.
One of the town's biggest penned events is Blackpool Rocks: the Return which has been billed the biggest of comeback parties and will see global icon Fatboy Slim as headline guest DJ. The event is scheduled to take place in the Empress Ballroom, Winter Gardens on June 26 and could be the first live event to go ahead post lockdown end.
After a bumper week for the town, with holidaymakers flooding the venues and attractions, revellers and businesses alike remain optimistic, with the vaccination programme going strong that the summer will be full of promise with a holiday experience top of the agenda.
Organisers behind Blackpool Rocks have said in line with everyone else they will await Monday's detailed announcement in anticipation.
According to the Government s roadmap out of lockdown, the June 21 date was always dependent on the data but it is not yet known whether the concerns over the coronavirus variants and growing case numbers will delay the big unlocking.
There have been varying reports with the Government said to be "drawing up other options" for the end of lockdown. One idea mooted is to the put the pause on step four
until schools break up for summer.
Another suggestion is to press ahead with the June 21 date but some restrictions on social contact remaining. These could include mask-wearing and some working from home guidelines.
Covid hospitalisations remained flat despite rising cases, figures have showed. There were 126 patients admitted to hospitals suffering from the virus on June 2, compared to 127 last Wednesday.
Experts say jabs have broken the link between rising cases and hospitalisations and deaths. But ministers are now waiting on further data to confirm that is the case before pressing ahead with any final unlocking.
Health minister Matt Hancock today urged locals living in Lancashire and Greater Manchester not to leave their areas and avoid meeting people outdoors to stop the spread of the Indian variant.
With little under two weeks before the planned final unlocking, the hotspots are being sent 'enhanced support' in a last-ditch attempt to try to contain the 'Delta' strain.
The Army will be deployed to help carry out surge testing to flush out cases of the virus, while NHS boards in the area will be given extra help to ensure vaccine uptake is as high as possible. Residents are also being asked to get tested twice a week.