PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed a four-week delay to the lifting of lockdown restrictions which were originally planned for June 21.

Mr Johnson announced in a press conference at 6pm that July 19 would now be the next key date for mask-wearing and social distancing restrictions to be eased.

By then, it is hoped that everyone over 50, every vulnerable person, every frontline key worker, and everyone over 40 who had their first jab before mid-May would have had both doses of the vaccine.

And every adult over the age of 18 should receive their first dose by July 19 - and those aged 23 and 24 will be able to book their jab from Tuesday.

One lockdown restriction will still be eased from June 21 - weddings and wakes will be allowed to go ahead with more than 30 guests if social distancing is maintained.

The PM said a sharp 64 per cent rise in coronavirus cases and 50 per cent week-on-week increase in hospitalisations related to Covid-19 required a cautious pause in easing the other restrictions.

He said: "We know the remorseless logic of exponential growth. Though the link between hospitalisation and death has been weakened, the number of people in intensive care is rising."

"By being cautious now, we have the chance of saving thousands of lives and vaccinating millions more people.

“We can simply keep going with all of Step 4 on June 21, even though there is a real possibility that the virus will outrun the vaccines and that thousands more deaths would ensue which could otherwise have been avoided.

“Or else we can give the NHS a few more crucial weeks to get those remaining jabs into the arms of those who need them.

"We will be in a far stronger position to keep hospitalisations down and complete our cautious but irreversible road map to freedom.

"We can't eliminate Covid and we must learn to live with it."

Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle criticised the government earlier today for telling the media about the change in restrictions before MPs had been told about them in the House because it is supposed to be the other way around.

He said: "The House needs to know first. I find it totally unaccepatable that once again, we see Downing Street running roughshod over members of parliament.

"I am being misled. This House is being misled."