On Monday, May 17, 2021, most regions of Britain witnessed a significant easing of Corona’s containment restrictions, as it became possible to eat indoors, go to cinemas and embrace their loved ones, despite fears associated with the outbreak of a mutated version of the virus that is more contagious.
The Sun newspaper described the lifting of many restrictions on indoor mixing across England, Wales and most parts of Scotland as “two freedom”.
In a bar in Liverpool, a waiter put beer muzzle to customers at tables and laid out the traditional English breakfast consisting of eggs, sausages and beans.
Customers sat in a coffee shop near Waterloo Station in central London, where they ate sandwiches.
Cinemas, galleries, museums and theaters have also come to life, while gyms and fitness centers reopen for the first time in months.
Meanwhile, British tourists have begun arriving in Portugal with the lifting of travel restrictions for certain countries after months of undergoing home isolation measures, which also constitutes a boost to the aviation and travel sectors severely affected by the epidemic.
But perhaps the most awaited step is to end social distancing within homes, which will allow family members to hug each other again.
“I really have a bit of emotion and I’m saying that … you can hug your loved ones again,” said Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday, “We have together reached a new threshold in the roadmap that we have laid out to exit the lockdown, but we have to accompany this next step with a heavy dose of caution.”
And he stated, “Remember that close contact, like hugging, is a direct way to transmit infection.”
But Britain’s next step of completely lifting COVID-19 containment restrictions on June 21 may face difficulties due to the spread of the mutated version of the virus, the most contagious one detected for the first time in India.
“We are closely monitoring the outbreak of the mutant, which was first identified in India, and is moving rapidly in areas where infection rates are high,” Johnson said Sunday.
More than 36.5 million people received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccines and 20 million received both doses, but ministers are seeking to convince more people to receive vaccines in order to prevent any delay that may arise in reopening the economy completely.
“Don’t screw it up, British,” wrote the “Daily Mail,” while “The Sun” titled “Take the potion!”
Speed up vaccinations
With the lifting of restrictions and concern about the new, mutated version, the date for giving second doses of vaccines will be brought forward to protect people over 50 and those who are vulnerable to health.
Business Minister Kwasi Quarting told Sky News Monday, “There is nothing in the evidence that we have seen now that indicates that the vaccine is ineffective against the Indian mutant.”
According to government data, the Indian mutant is spreading on British soil, as its injuries increased from 520 to 1313 last week, most of them in the cities of Bolton and Blackburn in northern England, where many of the descendants of Asian origin reside.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock reported that the “vast majority” of people hospitalized in Bolton with the new mutated infection were supposed to be vaccinated but did not.
The injury rate in Bolton is ten times higher than the UK average.
“What we’re trying to do in Bolton is encourage people who haven’t received the vaccine to do so,” Quarting told the BBC.
“Spread like wildfire”
Hancock warned that the new mutated version could “spread like wildfire among unvaccinated groups” and did not rule out the imposition of limited local restrictions.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on Sky News for “flexibility to allow younger age groups to be given the vaccine in areas of London where we are concerned about this version” of the virus.
The Scottish city of Glasgow and the Murray region (northeast) decided to maintain the restrictions currently imposed due to the high number of cases associated with the Indian metamorphosis.
Last week, Johnson pledged a full and independent investigation early next year into his government’s handling of the virus crisis.
It is reported that he was accused of reluctance to impose a third national lockdown in early January and delay in restricting travel from India, where the number of injuries is high.
But the Conservative government’s popularity received a huge boost thanks to the vaccination campaign, which was reflected in the local elections in England.