© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: British five pound banknotes are seen in this picture illustration taken November 14, 2017. REUTERS/ Benoit Tessier/Illustration/File Photo

By Lawrence White

LONDON (Reuters) – Sterling fell slightly against the dollar on Monday, as the government failed to reassure the public it will stick to its plan to fully lift COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in England on June 21.

Sterling has been among the top-performing G10 currencies this year as Britain’s rapid deployment of vaccines led to expectations of a fast reopening of the economy.

Those hopes have faded somewhat in recent weeks however, as rising cases of the delta variant of COVID-19 first detected in India have led to calls from some scientists to push back the reopening date.

Health minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday it was “too soon” to say whether the June 21 plan could go ahead.

By 0750 GMT the pound was down 0.2% against the dollar at $1.4136, and down a similar amount against the euro at 86.06 pence..

The pound recovered from a bad recent run against the surging dollar at the end of last week, thanks to softer than expected U.S. jobs data on Friday which knocked the greenback from its perch.

Speculators decreased their net short dollar positions last week, according to calculations by Reuters and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday.

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