FACE MASKS and home working could be sticking around after June 21 if cases of the Indian Covid variant keep rising.
Ministers are increasingly concerned about the spread of the virus and whether it has the potential to derail plans to lift all restrictions next month.
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The Business secretary has admitted No.10 ‘can’t guarantee’ the big reopening will go ahead as planned next monthCredit: Alamy
Brits could carry on working from home after June 21, as the Treasury is said to be prioritising the end of social distancing ahead of others
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has admitted No 10 “can’t guarantee” the big reopening will go ahead as planned next month.
If admissions to hospital start going up in the next few weeks then the date for all restrictions being binned may have to be “moved”.
However, he also said at the moment there was “nothing in the data” to suggest a return to full freedoms will have to be delayed.
Meanwhile, ministers are discussing contingency plans that could mean a partial end to the lockdown, the Times reported.
The Treasury was said to be prioritising the end of the one metre plus distancing rule, as well as the rule of six indoors.
These were two freedoms viewed as being crucial to helping the economy recover – particularly businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors.
Getting punters back into packed boozers and restaurants is seen as absolutely crucial for these businesses – and the Treasurys coffers.
This means pubs may soon be able to allow customers to order at the bar once again.
Whitehall insiders reckon this big ticket goal of scrapping the one metre rule would have the biggest impact on Brits lives and the economy.
Ministers reportedly want to enable festivals, concerts and sporting events to go ahead, by putting an end to rules that limit mass gatherings.
Getting punters back into packed boozers and restaurants is seen as absolutely crucial for hospitalityCredit: Getty
Brits could be donning facemasks for some time after June 21Credit: Getty
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said ministers are worried about the spread of the Indian variant
Downing Street has reportedly ditched the idea of Covid passports for pubs but is examining whether to press ahead with certificates to help unlock mass gatherings like gigs and sports events.
Prioritising the leisure industry could mean other restrictions remain in a partial unlocking.
A Treasury source told the Times the government was prepared for the worst-case scenario that the Indian variant led to a surge in hospital admissions.
In an effort attempt to reduce the spread of the virus, masks could still be required on public transport and in indoor public spaces.
Guidance stating that people must work from home if they can might also remain in place after June 21.
Boris Johnson is expected to make a decision on which restrictions can be lifted within the next fortnight. 
Ministers will only make a final call on what measures – if any – can be ditched on June 21 nearer the time when they have all the health data.
But they will only press the button on the massive lockdown easing if the Covid data looks good enough.
While plans to allow Brits a handful of new freedoms may be on track, it seems likely that other restrictions will be around for a while longer.
A top scientist has said Brits should carry on working from home beyond the planned end of lockdown on June 21, in order to stop the spread of the Indian variant.
Professor Andrew Hayward, who sits on the Sage group of boffins that advises the Government, said some restrictions may need to stay in place for longer.
He warned cases of the new strain are doubling every week and on the current trajectory could hit a quarter of a million by mid-July.
The top prof said full reopening may have to be delayed until a higher proportion of the population are fully vaccinated.
The UK yesterday recorded more than 4,000 coronavirus cases – the first time this number had been topped since April.
The seven day total was 24 per cent higher than the week before, with close to three quarters of all new cases now the Indian variant.
But there are some very early signs that Covid cases in Bolton – the worst hit by Indian Covid – are starting to plateau.
Several scientific experts have said the trend is heading in the right direction.
Dr Helen Wall, the head of Boltons jabbing programme said vaccines seem to be working in stopping severe illness even among the hospitalised.
She told the BBC: In terms of how ill theyre getting, I think the vaccine definitely seems to be working.
We are not seeing, certainly not many people as sick as we would have done pre-vaccine, certainly the picture in hospital is much better to previous times when weve been at this position.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock wearing a Union Jack face mask earlier this weekCredit: Getty
Boris Johnson casts fresh doubt on June 21 freedom day and says ‘we might have to wait’