The prime minister has been warned by some scientists that moving to stage four of his roadmap should be pushed back due to the spread of the Indian variant.
Asked on Tuesday about whether the June 21 date would still be met, the prime minister’s spokesperson said journalists should look at what Johnson said on Thursday.
Last week the PM said he did not see “anything currently in the data” that would divert him from the plan.
Downing Street added today: “We will continue to look at the data, we will continue to look at the latest scientific evidence as we move through June towards June 21.”
But professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said there were still many people who are vulnerable to the effects of Covid as he warned “the idea that somehow the job is done is wrong”.
He told LBC that pressing ahead with the easing of restrictions on June 21 “may be a bad decision”.
Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), added a delay to unlocking of a few weeks could have a significant impact on the battle against the pandemic.
He recommended it should be made clear to the public that it would be a temporary measure based on the surge in cases of the new variant.
“Even a month delay could have a big impact on the eventual outcome of this,” Gupta told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
But Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, said it was important to press ahead with the roadmap.
He told Times Radio: “I personally don’t see any case for delay.
“From a societal point of view, I think it’s really important that we go ahead on June 21 and I’ve not really seen anything in the data that would lead me to doubt that as a proposition on the evidence to date.
“I think we need to recognise the way in which levels of fear and anxiety in the population have been amplified over the last 15 months or so.”
England is currently in stage three of the prime minister’s four stage roadmap for unlocking the country.
Since May 17, two households or a maximum of six people from multiple households have been permitted to socialise indoors, including in pubs and restaurants.
Stage four, due on June 21, would see all legal limits on social contact lifted. In effect it is expected to mark the end of lockdown.
The prime minister is expected to announce his decision as to whether this will go ahead on June 14.
No.10 also said Public Health England (PHE) was considering whether to adopt the World Health Organisation’s new naming system for coronavirus variants. It would see the Indian variant renamed the Delta variant.