Boris Jonhson has resisted pressure from British businessmen and his deputies and announced this Monday a “cautious but irreversible” de-escalation to end the third national lockdown. Catapulted by the success of his vaccination campaign that has already reached 17.5 million Britons, although weighed down by his late reaction to the pandemic, the ‘premier’ has preferred this time to put prudence ahead with a plan staggered in four phases. The momentum of vaccines has made some think that we could go faster,” he warned in his speech in Parliament, hours before addressing the British on television. But I will not take that risk. We will make decisions based on the data and not on the dates.
I understand the frustration, fatigue, and level of stress that people and especially companies are suffering,” added the ‘premier’, with the lesson learned from the frustrating de-escalation in December, followed by national alarm by the variant of the coronavirus detected in Kent, in the south of England. “To all of them, I want to say that the end is really in sight. The de-escalation plan in four phases begins on March 8 with the reopening of primary and secondary schools, closed since mid-December due to the alarm unleashed by the new variant of the covid detected in Kent. On the same day, family visits will be allowed in the residences. Three weeks later, the “Stay at home” slogan will be withdrawn and outdoor gatherings of up to six people from two different households will be allowed.
April 12 is the date marked for the reopening of service (outdoors) in restaurants, pubs, and cafes, which currently can only serve food and drink to go. From that day on, non-essential shops, hair salons, and gyms reopen. Outdoor sports competitions will be allowed again.
On May 17, the “rule of six” will fall by its weight. Pubs and restaurants may serve covered roofs, under strict measures of social distance. Hair salons and hair salons may reopen. Hotels and cinemas will also be able to reopen from that day on, and access to the stadiums with a limited capacity will be allowed (Wembley will reopen its doors with a capacity of 10,000 spectators). Based on the data, international travel restrictions will be relaxed and Covid testing and quarantine rules will be reviewed. Starting on June 21, the focus will be on revitalizing the sector, with the possible authorization of summer holidays within the UK. The British Government is studying the possibility of creating “vaccination passports” with specific countries such as Greece.We need a window of four or five weeks between the different phases to see if they are working, and that is why we will proceed with caution, Johnson stressed. “We also want to give the population a feeling of certainty and security, and prevent the situation from being too fluid.
25% OF THE POPULATION HAVE ALREADY RECEIVED THE VACCINE
“There is no possible route to” zero covid “and not even vaccines guarantee 100% protection, even if they are effective against the dominant strains of the virus,” the premier added. Johnson thus replied to an amendment tabled by Labor party Richard Burgon and backed by 40 MPs from six parties. Burgon urged the ‘premier’ to follow the example of countries like New Zealand or Vietnam, which have pursued “the maximum suppression of the virus” and have been able to reopen their economies while most European countries have had to face the second and third waves of the virus. The United Kingdom continues to be the European country with the highest number of deaths from Covid (121,000) and the fifth in the world, after the United States, Brazil, Mexico, and India. In the middle of January, the tragic bar of 1,600 daily deaths and 50,000 infections was surpassed, which forced the ‘premier’ to order third confinement that has ended up bearing fruit.
In recent weeks, the virus has regressed to 178 deaths and 10,641 cases in the last 24 hours. Part of the decline is attributed to the advancement of the vaccination campaign, which now reaches more than 25% of the British population (compared to the average of 5% or 6% in European countries). The campaign started on December 8, earlier than in any European country, and the British Government has purchased 400 million doses from different laboratories (at six per head). The evidence looks good and the vaccination program is starting to pay off,” said Nadhim Zahawi, the secretary of state for vaccines. According to a British Government study, the Pfizer / BioTech and AstraZeneca / Oxford University vaccines have reduced hospital admissions by 85% and 94% respectively.
The ‘premier’ Boris Johnson certified that the campaign is advancing even several weeks in advance and that it aims to achieve its goal of vaccinating everyone over 50 on April 15 and potentially covering the entire population in July.
The success achieved with the vaccination campaign, in contrast to the fiasco of the European Union, has helped the conservative leader to rebuild his image and win back the favor of his compatriots in a couple of months. Just a month and a half ago, 45% of British people believed that Johnson should “resign” because of his mistakes in the face of the pandemic, while the leader of the Labor opposition Keir Starmer rose whole and was ahead in the polls. In the latest Opinium poll for ‘The Observer’, the conservative leader is again ahead by 41% to 38% of the preferences of the British, while his rival has practically run out of arguments before the Covid, he has buried the hatchet before Brexit and has fallen embroiled in the internal wars of the Labor Party.