UK ministers considering contingency plans for local lockdowns -the Times

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past closed shops, a year since the first British lockdown began due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in London, Britain, March 23, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville

(Reuters) -British ministers are considering contingency plans for local lockdowns or a delay to reopening after June 21 in response to concern about the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected in India, The Times newspaper reported on Monday.

Officials have drawn up plans modelled on the Tier 4 restrictions introduced last year, the paper said. People would be advised to stay at home and non-essential shops and hospitality would be closed if the variant was not brought under control, it added.

The newspaper said businesses in areas subject to the restrictions would receive grants of up to 18,000 pounds ($25,440) and the scheme would be administered by local authorities, with payments adjusted according to the length of restrictions.

Grants would be made available for the worst-affected sectors, such as nightclubs, and for "mass events" including festivals in another scenario being considered with a delay to reopening after June 21, the report said.

Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said the government cannot yet make a judgment on whether to go ahead with a further easing of lockdown restrictions in England on June 21 and wants to see as much data as possible before deciding.

Britain reported 1,979 new cases of coronavirus on Monday and five deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, while the data showed 36.7 million people had been given their first vaccine dose.

($1 = 0.7076 pounds)

(Reporting by Nandakumar D in Bengaluru; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Karishma Singh)

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