BORIS Johnson has announced that the ending of social-distancing rules – which had been slated for June 21 – will be delayed for four weeks to July 19, despite the financial struggle many businesses are facing.

The move follows warnings from scientists that the rapid spread of the Delta variant first identified in India risks a 'substantial' third wave if it is allowed to spread unchecked.

This means that current limits on social lives will remain – that is the rule of six indoors and 30 outdoors.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies could remain capped at up to 30 guests.

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In addition, there will be no nightclub reopening just yet, and theatres and other performances will continue to be held at 50 per cent capacity.

Pubs will have to stick to table service only, with social distancing remaining in place.

In a press conference from Downing Street, the Prime Minister appealed to the public to show patience, with one last push to ensure that when controls do finally end it is 'irreversible'.

The decision comes as a huge setback to many businesses – particularly in the battered hospitality sector – which had pinned their hopes on a full summer reopening to recoup some of the losses of the past year.

Jo Walkley, director of The Bear Hotel on Market Place, Wantage, revealed that the hotel is 'dead'.

Its 34 en-suite rooms are usually all occupied by wedding guests and business people travelling to the town, however, the pandemic has put a stop to that even though restrictions allow it.

Ms Walkley commented on the current state of the business located in the heart of Wantage: "We would obviously be affected by the easing of restrictions, especially because of wedding guests coming to town.

"It does not look great, the hotel is dead.

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"The restaurant is doing okay but we have lost our main trade coming from business people travelling to Wantage and staying with us during the week days.

Despite the negative effect the pandemic has had on the hospitality industry, Ms Walkley agreed that the Prime Minister should postpone the full reopening originally planned for next week.

However, not everyone supported the Prime Minister's decision to postpone the changes to July.

Jessie Webber, landlady at The Town Arms pub and B&B in Wallingford, said she would enjoy lockdown easing.

She explained: "It has been rubbish to be honest, but everyone we have had in has been lovely and understanding.

"However, it would be nice to have a bit of normality back again and we would be able to accommodate more guests.

"Our plan is to also be able to properly open the B&B and start doing breakfast from 8am in the morning if restrictions do ease."