Boris Johnson presented on Monday the de-escalation roadmap of the third coronavirus lockdown. “You can already see the end.” This was the optimistic message that the prime minister sent. The plan will be staggered over the next four months and the restrictions will be removed with caution as he wants it to be a definitive plan.
The roadmap has four staggered phases until the end of June. Between each of the phases there will be five weeks of difference to be able to evaluate the impact of the reduction of restrictions and another to communicate the new phase. The plan will largely depend on the level of contagion of the virus, which continues to be above 10,000 positives and 170 deaths per day, in addition to the progress of the vaccination process. 26.6% of the population, 17.7 million people, have already been vaccinated. Johnson’s goal is for 100% of the population to be vaccinated by July 1.
There will be reference dates. The first will be when all primary and secondary schools reopen on March 8, while the teachers union calls this decision “madness.” They believe that this plan could prolong the “harmful cycle of interrupted schooling.”
Disappointment of teachers
For its part, the government’s group of scientific advisers for emergencies warned, in a document, that the opening of primary and secondary schools could increase infections by 50%. To avoid this, he proposed a gradual reopening, opening primary schools first and then secondary schools. And, in addition, a study that was published a few hours after the roadmap was presented, reveals that teachers have a greater risk of testing positive for Covid than most other occupations, contrary to what what the government says.
On this same date, some university courses will also open in which students have to carry out face-to-face practices. But it will be from March 29 when a maximum of six people or two families or two different houses will be allowed to meet in outdoor spaces. “Citizens will no longer be legally required to remain in their homes,” Johnson said. Still, people will continue to telecommute and will continue to recommend minimizing travel.
The second phase will begin on April 12. From this day on, non-essential businesses such as stores, hairdressers, gyms or swimming pools will be allowed to reopen their doors. In the third phase, which will not begin before May 17, meeting limitations in open places will be eliminated and pubs and restaurants will be reopened. Play areas, cinemas and theaters will also reopen to the public. All types of events will be allowed, with the possibility of requiring diagnostic tests for COVID-19.
The return to a certain normality
The fourth and final phase, in which the UK will return to normal if all goes as planned by the government, will begin on June 21. All restrictions related to social contact will be relaxed and, according to Johnson, large events, such as weddings, and the entrance of spectators into football stadiums, will be able to take place again. “A miserable year will give way to a spring and summer that will be very different and incomparably better than what we see around us today,” said Johnson.
When recovery leads to a sense of normalcy, the government hopes that the entire population has already been vaccinated. “We must always be humble in the face of nature and we must be cautious. But I really also believe that the vaccination program has dramatically changed the odds in our favor.” Social distancing and work-from-home restrictions will remain in place until June 21 at the earliest. Johnson said that thanks to the vaccination program “we are now traveling on a one-way road to freedom” but cautioned that no vaccine is “100% effective”, which means “we have to be realistic” and be aware that “we will not be able to eradicate this disease.”