British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to reopen England’s economy from coronavirus lockdown on July 19, 2021.
Despite one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, Britain is facing a new wave of COVID-19.
Johnson has already delayed the so-called freedom day by four weeks to allow more people to get vaccinated, after warning that thousands of more people might die because of the rapid spread of the more infectious variant.
But with more than 86% of adults now having received a first dose and nearly two-thirds of adults fully vaccinated, Johnson has set July 19 as a terminus date for restrictions.
As we come to the fourth step, we have to balance the risks – the risks of the disease and the risks of continuing with legally enforced restrictions that inevitably take their toll on people’s lives and livelihoods. pic.twitter.com/AqI2nYxpaz
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 5, 2021
OPEN UP BRITAIN
Cases of COVID-19 have risen sharply in Britain in recent weeks, driven by the now-dominant Delta variant, and the final easing of restrictions was delayed by four weeks to enable more people to be vaccinated.
Public Health England figures indicate that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing the Delta variant leading to severe illness or hospital admission.
“The NHS (health service) will be able to cope with any increase that we see in admissions,” Stephen Powis, NHS England’s National Medical Director, told Sky News.
Housing minister Robert Jenrick said on Sunday that face masks would no longer be mandatory after the final easing, but many doctors and scientists urged more caution.
“It makes no sense to stop wearing face masks amongst the public in closed public settings such as public transport,” Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the Council of the British Medical Association trade union, told BBC radio, adding their main purpose was to protect others, not the wearer.
In a weekend newspaper article, Health Minister Sajid Javid flagged both the economic and health costs of continuing restrictions, a view also cited on the streets of London.
“There’s still cases, but … not very many people seem to be suffering with it so much,” said Mandy Suiter, 50, a secretary.
“I think the economy and everyone’s mental health is suffering a lot more. So open up Britain, Boris.”