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LABOUR called for Boris Johnson today to do more to protect jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic as the Prime Minister appeared set to announce a four-week delay to ending restrictions.
Amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, Mr Johnson was expected to confirm last night – after the Morning Star had gone to press – that the end to the lockdown in England, pencilled in for next Monday, would be put back to July 19.
The announcement would mean that limits on numbers allowed at sports events and in pubs and cinemas are likely to remain in place, nightclubs will stay closed and people will be encouraged to continue social distancing and working from home wherever possible.
The reports, met with fury by some Tory MPs, who threatened to rebel in a vote on any delay later this month, came after scientists warned that the rapid spread of the Delta variant of the virus, first identified in India, risks a third deadly wave of infection.
Such a delay would be a huge setback to many businesses – particularly in the hospitality sector – which have pinned their hopes on reopening for a full summer to help recoup a year’s worth of losses.
Speaking ahead of the announcement, shadow business secretary Ed Miliband urged the PM to protect livelihoods, stressing businesses should not suffer because of government failures to contain the new variant.
“It’s right we remain guided by the science, but the price of any delay must not be paid by businesses,” he stressed.
“[Many] are still seriously affected by restrictions, but they have repeatedly been left in the dark about economic support.
“The government must treat businesses with respect and provide the clarity they are crying out for.”
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