Social distancing rules such as face masks are being reviewed (Image: NurPhoto/PA Images)

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Boris Johnson is weighing up whether to press ahead with June 21 lockdown easing amid mounting calls from scientists to delay.

The lockdown roadmap, announced back in February, set out four stages out of restrictions – with the final step due to take place after June 21.

Every step has gone ahead on time so far, with schools reopening in March, pubs and restaurants serving outdoors in April, and hugs and indoor meet-ups for up to six people in May.

But clouds are gathering over the June 21 date due to the spread of the Delta variant – formerly known as the Indian strain.

Dubbed Freedom Day, step 4 of the roadmap was supposed to see an end to all limits on social contact, allowing shuttered industries like nightclubs to reopen and crowds to return to festivals and gigs.

Boris Johnson will take a decision about June 21 lockdown easing within weeks
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The PM is waiting for key data on the transmissibility of the Delta strain as well as clearer indications of whether the vaccine is preventing people from ending up in hospital with Covid.

He will also consider evidence from two crucial probes into social distancing and vaccine passports.

Both reviews led by Cabinet Minister Michael Gove have already been delayed.

It isn't clear when the results will be published as a Government source said more evidence is still being gathered.

Here's what we know about the reviews and what they mean.

What is the social distancing review?

Officials are gathering evidence on "whether existing rules, designed to limit virus transmission, could be relaxed in different settings", according to an update in April.

This means things like wearing face masks, working from home and remaining "one metre plus" from other people to prevent the spread of the virus.

Businesses and employers will be keenly watching the results of this review, as it could prove transformative for battered industries like hospitality.

Boris Johnson's roadmap makes it clear that social distancing is "difficult and damaging for businesses", adding that "it is important to return to as near to normal as quickly as possible".

The PM aims to end "all legal limits on social contact" at step 4 – effectively scrapping all restrictions on how many people can gather both indoors and outside.

But some critics say this will not have been achieved if people still have to socially distance or wear masks.

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Will masks rules be scrapped?

People can currently be fined £200 for failing to wear face covering in indoor public spaces such as shops and on public transport – unless they are exempt.

Boris Johnson initially signalled he was keen to ditch masks, saying in mid-May that he hoped life would be "much closer to normality” by the summer.

Second school pupils have no longer been advised to wear face coverings in the classroom since the start of the summer term.

But concern about the Indian variant has triggered fresh concern about whether masks should continue to be used to limit the spread of the virus.

Rules around wearing face masks are being looked at by officials
(Image: NurPhoto/PA Images)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock did not rule out keeping masks beyond June 21 when asked about the issue this week.

And Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick said "there are options that are clearly available to the Government" when pressed on masks and working from home.

Could working from home continue?

Keeping people out of the office is one of the key levers the Government has to pull – as it means fewer people crammed together on public transport and in city centres.

Working from home has had a big impact on high streets and businesses catering to commuters.

But some insiders suggest it could be the price paid for relaxing other restrictions – and both Matt Hancock and Robert Jenrick also left the door open to this idea.

A Treasury source told The Telegraph: “Obviously working from home does have some consequences, but there’s no difference between now and two weeks’ time because the economic support will still be in place.

"There’s not that imperative to change the advice.”

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What about 'one metre plus' – and can we order at the bar?

Hospitality bosses have been pushing for an end to the 'one metre plus' distancing rule, as it limits how many customers can be served inside a pub or restaurant.

It also presents a challenge for the return of crowds to football matches and large outdoor events like music festivals.

If the rule was scrapped, measures like table service at pubs could go, with punters finally allowed to order their drinks at the bar.

The PM's official spokesman made it clear this was under consideration in late May, although fears over the Indian variant have increased since then.

Ordering at the bar could be back if social distancing rules are eased
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Asked whether people can look forward to being to order a drink at the bar, the spokesman said: "That is one of the things under consideration as far as the certification review because it relates to the 'one metre plus' rules.

"So we will have to wait until we have more clinical data before we can make that judgement."

Will Covid passport plans be scrapped?

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove is also leading a separate review into 'Covid status certification' to consider how so-called vaccine passports could be used at home.

Vaccine passports for foreign travel are widely accepted but officials are looking at whether certificates to prove your Covid status could be used in the UK.

The certificates would allow you prove you've had the jab, a recent negative Covid test or antibodies from recent infection – either through an app or a paper document.

The roadmap documents says the idea could "play a role in reopening our economy, reducing restrictions on social contact and improving safety".

Covid status certificates are being considered by officials
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

While pubs and shops are unlikely to be included, certification could be used for getting into events such as sports, gigs, nightclubs or the theatre.

But Mr Gove admitted at the end of May there were still "significant outstanding factors" to work through and suggested that the system might not be ready in time for June 21.

He also hinted a passport scheme might not end up happening at all when he appeared before MPs.

He said: "It was always intended to be the case for any form of Covid status certification in the UK that were we to embrace it, it would be for a time-limited period."