The hospitality sector is calling for the government to stick to its 21 June roadmap date amidst concerns raised by scientific advisers that it should be delayed in order to avoid a potential third wave of coronavirus cases.

In the past few days remarks have been made by senior government adviser, Professor Ravi Gupta, a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, who suggested the country is in the early stages of a third wave, due to the increase in cases caused by the Indian variant.

While Professor Adam Finn of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said there were still many people vulnerable to the virus, and that “the idea that somehow the job is done is wrong”.

The Prime Minister is said to be facing pressure from Conservative MPs to stick to the 21 June date, and to concentrate instead on the pushing forward with the vaccine roll out. Yesterday saw no new coronavirus deaths reported for the first time since the pandemic began, which is likely to intensify the pressure on Johnson.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, said any delay to the roadmap would have “a devastating effect on an already fragile hospitality sector”.

“The latest market data shows a quarter of hospitality venues are still shut and those that are open cannot turn a profit because of the current restrictions – a delay would push many businesses closer to the cliff edge of failure, meaning more job losses.”

Nicholls reiterated previous comments that should timing slip, further financial support from government would need to be forthcoming, including business rates payments being postponed until at least October, and an extension of the rent moratorium while a long-term solution is found, as well as permanent lowering of VAT on hospitality goods and services.

While Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said the current uncertainty was “creating a wave of panic” across the sector.

“The 21 June has been etched on the minds of operators as the date when they can finally trade normally unrestricted by capacity limits and social distancing measures, and any delays to this critical milestone will have severe consequences for the sector,” he commented.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday that while Glasgow would move from level three to level two this Friday, 14 local authorities - including Edinburgh, Dundee and Stirling - will stay in level two, in a delay to reopening plans.

She said a “slight slowing down” of the easing of restrictions was needed while vaccination continues - but that “this is a pause, not a step backwards”.