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Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said the spread of the Indian Covid-19 variant means the Government is having to “assess the situation” in the weeks leading up to Step 4 of the roadmap and the full reopening of events on 21 June.

The PM said the army is being sent to parts of the UK worst-hit by the Indian variant as part of a  surge vaccination plan. He said the second doses of the coronavirus vaccine for the over-50s will be accelerated across the country.

Dowden said, “The crucial road map date for theatres, music venues and sports has always been Step 4, so I understand this is an anxious time as we assess the situation over the next couple of weeks.

“We continue to make good progress with the vaccine rollout and with testing the safe return of audiences through the Events Research Programme, but must accept we enter a period of heightened vigilance with the new fast-moving variant.

“We will keep engaging with, and updating, organisations to allow everyone to plan their full reopening.”

His comments came on the same day as 21,000 people watched the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, without the need for social distancing,  as part of the Events Research Programme.