ouples have been warned by a Cabinet minister not to plan big wedding parties until after Monday’s “finely balanced” decision on unlocking by Boris Johnson.
Giving a signal that the decision on whether to ease restrictions could go either way, Robert Jenrick said: “Whether it’s weddings or international travel any of these other important topics, you always have to wait until the judgement is made on the basis of the data.
“I wouldn’t make plans until you’ve heard from the PM if that’s important to you.”
He stressed that weddings can go ahead right away but with a maximum of 30 guests. If unlocking goes ahead on June 21 as planned, the limit on numbers would be abolished or increased.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said coronavirus cases were “clearly rising” and told Sky News: “The Prime Minister is reviewing the data, and more data is coming in, which is very important.
“We created this five-week period between the stages of the road map and that has actually proved invaluable on this occasion, because it’s a finely balanced decision.”
But Tory MP Sir Charles Walker said there will be “a huge wave of disappointment” if Mr Johnson delays the end to legal coronavirus restrictions.
The vice chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs told BBC Newsnight: “There will be a huge wave of disappointment across the country if we don’t open up on June 21.
“The delay could be two weeks, a month, but I think the real issue here is if we can’t open up the economy at the height of summer then I think we are facing the very real prospect of more forced lockdowns in the autumn – I just don’t see how we can avoid that.
“The goalposts – as we’ve always said, it’s a well-worn cliché – are moving.”
Mr Jenrick said nobody should be booking holidays in Amber List countries like Spain and Italy just yet. “I think a lot of people are coming to the conclusion, perfectly understandably, that this isn’t a normal summer – opportunities for international travel are going to be more limited, and so why not enjoy everything that this country has to offer this summer?
“That’s probably the decision that I’m going to make, many other people will be doing the same.”
Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has let it be known he is willing to accept a short delay to Step 4 of the road map to ending the lockdown amid a rise in cases, it is understood.
A Whitehall source pointed towards the Treasury having gone “long” on emergency coronavirus support packages in the Budget to cover the possibility of a delay to the plans.
In a further boost to the vaccine programme, NHS England said nearly 500,000 jabs were booked on Tuesday in a “Glastonbury-style” rush after the vaccine rollout was expanded to 25 to 29-year-olds.
NHS England said the National Booking Service had seen 493,000 appointments reserved by midday on Tuesday, just five hours after eligibility was widened to the over-25s.
It is more than double the number booked the previous day and equates to about 100,000 bookings an hour.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “This encouraging Glastonbury-style rush for appointments has already now seen hundreds of thousands of people between 25 and 29 book in for their NHS Covid jabs, as more vaccine supplies continue to come on line.
“Pleasingly this suggests strong enthusiasm for vaccination amongst people in their 20s, following hard on the heels of the millions of others who’ve already taken up our offer.”