Restrictions on weddings in England could be eased should Boris Johnson announce a delay in lockdown easing, the health minister Edward Argar has suggested.
With the prime minister expected to announce a four-week delay to the lifting of all restrictions on Monday evening, Argar said couples waiting to wed were “very much” in Johnson’s mind.
“There will be a lot of couples who planned, hoped, to do it, put a line through it, done it again and rescheduled again,” Argar told Sky News. “Not only does that cost money, but emotionally that is incredibly difficult for couples who want to have their special day and want to get married.”
Though he refused to pre-empt what Johnson would announce, Argar said: “I know that weddings and people in that particular situation will be very much in his mind at the moment, it’s one of the things he has been looking at.”
Under stage four of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown all legal limits on social contact in England are scheduled to be removed on 21 June. Johnson is also expected to address the issue of support for businesses should the 21 June easing be delayed when he sets out his plans.
Watch: Prime Minister weighing up lockdown easing delay, says Health Minister
Asked if the furlough scheme would be extended, Argar replied: “I know that when he addresses his decision, sets out what he intends to do around the easing on the 21st, he will address those points as well. I think he is very mindful of the need for businesses and others to get the support they need if they continue to be locked down or unable to open. But I don’t want to pre-empt what he will say, but I know he is very sensitive to those factors.”
A one-month delay would mean another 10m second coronavirus vaccine doses would go into arms, he said. “Were there to be a delay, were that to be what the prime minister announces, we will see what he says and he will make a judgment if he were to delay it on how long by,” he told BBC Breakfast. “If we are going at a run rate of about 250,000 to 300,000 second jabs being done each day, a month gives you roughly that 10m, which closes the gap ... 10m you have got to do to get from 29m to 40m, so that all 40m have had their second jabs.”
Argar did not rule out shortening the gap between vaccine doses for younger adults in England. “We have shortened the gap for the over-50s from 12 to eight weeks,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. But we will be guided by the advice of JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] and the scientists on this. At the moment, we believe the right thing to do is to shorten the gap for the over-50s, but we are always open to scientific advice.
“If that is the scientific advice, of course we will look at it very carefully – but at the moment the advice we are getting is the approach that we are following, which is the over-50s, and we have got the supplies to do that.”
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