First modification: 22/02/2021 – 09:56Last modification: 22/02/2021 – 09:55
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson presents his plan to lift the lockdown in England on Monday, in the hope that it will be the last, and the upcoming reopening of schools.
The entire country was once again confined in early January to fight the COVID-19 epidemic that has left more than 120,000 dead in the UK and placed hospitals on the brink of collapse.
As the effects of confinement and vaccines have resulted in a drop in the number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Boris Johnson will announce the deconfinement measures in Parliament in the afternoon and will offer a press conference afterwards.
The vaccination campaign that started in December has reached cruising speed: one adult in three has already received the first dose.
The government has promised that all adults will receive a first injection of the covid vaccine by the end of July, advancing this goal initially planned for September.
Despite the progress, the lack of definition will be “prudent” and “progressive,” the prime minister warned.
“Our priority has always been that children return to schools, which is crucial for their education as well as for their mental and physical well-being,” the leader said in a statement.
He also wants people to be able to “meet their relatives in complete safety” after months of isolation, so he will authorize meetings abroad, where the risks of transmission are considered lower.
Any decision, he assured, will be adopted based on the scientific elements at his disposal, and with prudence “so as not to cancel the progress” and the “sacrifices” made.
The colleges will reopen their doors from March 8. Labor opposition chief Keir Starmer expects schools to open on that date, but stressed the need for “caution” on Sky News Sunday.
– Increased border controls –
The government has already announced that as of March 8, users of nursing homes will be able to receive a visitor inside, provided they have a negative test and wear a mask.
This good news comes after the success of the first phase of the vaccination campaign, in which 15 million people had received the first dose in mid-February, among them the elderly in nursing homes.
Since then, the campaign has been extended to those over 65 and “clinically vulnerable” people. By mid-April, those over 50 should all have received a first dose of the vaccine.
Scientists estimate that vaccines provide protection around three weeks after laying.
While families hope to see a light at the end of the tunnel, some economic sectors particularly hit by the pandemic, such as hotels and restaurants, may have to wait a few more weeks to open to the discontent of pub owners.
“The pub has always been more than just a place to drink. This is where we go to connect, to form a community,” said Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), which calls for immediate reopening.
The Labor Party defends the reduction of VAT to help the sector. “You have to support companies” to ensure their “survival,” Keir Starmer recalled.
In the United Kingdom, each of the four nations of the country decides its strategy in terms of deconfinement. In Scotland and Wales, schools will open progressively from Monday, starting with the smallest of the primary classrooms.
While bracing for out-of-refinement, the government has tightened border controls to prevent the import of variants. Since last Monday, British residents and Irish citizens arriving in England from 33 countries considered at risk must remain in quarantine in a hotel, paying out of pocket.
© 2021 AFP