With cases linked to the Indian variant, also known as Delta, driving numbers up, there are reports the Government is considering delaying the last stage of the roadmap.

Currently scheduled for June 21, the last step in the easing of restrictions will see the return of large-scale events and the reopening of nightclubs as well as the end of social distancing and mask wearing.

But with increasing numbers of cases right across the country, The Telegraph reports there could be a two-week delay.

This is to allow the Government to accelerate second jabs for over-40s, moving from a 12 to eight-week gap between doses.

Read more: Wiltshire cases climbing up again for first time in weeks

Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) which advises the Government, says going ahead with the unlocking of all parts of society would be “foolish” and a “major risk”.

He told the PA news agency: “I think by the Government’s own criteria it’s quite clear that it would be foolish to proceed on the data that we’ve got at the moment. The risk would be very great indeed.

“And of course it’s a balance of risks but I think it would be a major risk to go further in opening up.”

A spokesperson for the Government said "no decision" has been made yet.

“As the Prime Minister has set out, we can see nothing in the data at the moment to suggest that we need to deviate from the roadmap,” said the spokeswoman.

“We continue to look at the data and the latest scientific evidence and no decision on Step 4 has yet been made.”

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