PLANS and events are now being cancelled and altered following the latest lockdown news - including the sunrise viewing that brings up to 30,000 people to Stonehenge every year.

The final stage of the lockdown roadmap would have welcomed the return of mass events from June 21, but following the Prime Minister’s announcement Monday night, this final step to normality has been pushed back until July 19.

One event that has been impacted locally by this change is the annual summer Solstice ceremony at Stonehenge, with the special sunrise taking place in the early hours on Monday.

Read more: 11 pictures of Solstice celebrations from years gone by

The longest day of the year, June 21, is thought to have been celebrated at the English Heritage site for thousands of years, as the sun rises behind the Heel Stone and rays of sun are channelled into the centre of the monument.

Permitting Step 4 of the lockdown roadmap was given the green light, English Heritage had confirmed that Solstice celebrations would be going ahead as normal but with Covid-19 measures in place, from Sunday evening, June 20, into the following morning.

With the latest change however, the charity has confirmed the event is cancelled.

Pre-booked groups from the pagan and druid community can gather on the days around the summer Solstice however, to mark this important moment in their calendar.

Nichola Tasker, English Heritage’s director for Stonehenge said: “We share people’s disappointment with this decision, we were busy getting ready to welcome everyone for summer Solstice but the announcement this week left us with no choice.”

Superintendent Steve Cox of Wiltshire Police added: “We fully support this approach by English Heritage in the light of the Government’s decision to delay the planned easing of lockdown.

“Public safety is our primary concern and whilst we recognise that this will be disappointing news to many who were looking forward to marking the Solstice at Stonehenge, it should be understood that this action has been made following concerns about the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“Please also be aware there is no extended or overnight opening of National Trust facilities at Avebury for the solstice weekend.”

As it was proven to be a success last year, the sunset and sunrise will be livestreamed from the monument for free, so the occasion can still be enjoyed from the comfort and safety of the home.

The footage from last year’s event was watched by more than three million people.

Kate Blackburn, director of public health at Wiltshire Council, said: “We know this will be disappointing for those who wanted to visit Stonehenge.

"However, it is important we recognise restrictions are still in place for a reason and we all need to play our part to stay safe.

"I would encourage people to view the summer Solstice online and I want to thank people in advance for their understanding and cooperation in ensuring Wiltshire plays its part.”

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