With infections doubling every nine days even Boris Johnson could not fully ignore the risks.
Against all his pro-profit instincts Boris Johnson has been forced to keep lockdown measures in place—for at least another four weeks.
Bosses and right wing Tories had frothed about how “freedom day” could not be delayed for a minute longer lest the chance to make money be squandered.
But the danger of a new round of coronavirus infections is now so great that even the government dared not ignore it.
Some 50,017 people tested positive last week, and the number of cases is now doubling every nine days.
And, around 7 million people in England are now living in areas with high Covid-19 rates. That is four times the number just two weeks ago.
The more transmissible Delta variant, which took hold in Britain just as restrictions were being relaxed in spring, now accounts for 91 percent of all new cases.
Hospitalisation rates and deaths are so far much lower than in previous rounds of infection. That likely reflects the success of the vaccination programme.
But many of those now contracting Covid-19 are young and as yet unvaccinated.
And, among the positive tests are a significant number of people who have had only one jab.
So far less than 45 percent of the British population have had both injections.
School-aged children account for a large number of new infections, according to Office for National Statistics. However there is also a rise among people aged between 35 and 49, which will likely include the parents of children in secondary schools.
That’s why the Independent Sage group of scientists last week called for better protective measures in schools. Yet, the government is determined to move in the opposite direction.
Last month the education department removed the requirement to wear masks in secondary schools.
Minsters’ complacency is driven by pressure from the right to fully open up.
Theatre impresario and former Tory peer Andrew Lloyd Webber says he will this week defy restrictions and open his Cinderella show in London’s West End.
Posing as a martyr for liberty‑loving bosses everywhere, he declared he is prepared to go to jail in the pursuit of profit.
Lloyd Webber is backed by scores of other business owners demanding an end to lockdown. They insist that vaccines mean the virus is no longer a threat.
But reports from Scotland and the north west of England, which appear to be furthest into the new wave of infections, show that hospitalisation rates will likely rise significantly.
That’s why lockdown measures must stay.
Many people will suffer economic hardship as restrictions continue. If preventative measures are to stand any chance of working, benefits and furlough payments for must rise, and encompass more people.
The Tories have been forced to postpone “freedom day”.
Now they must be forced to deliver the social and economic protection needed to keep people safe.