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UK Set to Remove Almost All Covid Restrictions on July 19

Boris Johnson announced the UK could exit the lockdown by July 19. The decision is yet to be made final as health experts and lawmakers oppose the decree.

SageFX - Jul, 06, 21

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Principal Points

  • Boris Johnson announced the UK could exit the lockdown by July 19
  • The decision is yet to be made final as health experts and lawmakers oppose the decree

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is looking to scrap nearly every restrictive measure against the coronavirus by July 19. In a public statement made yesterday, Mr. Johnson struck a rather pessimistic note as he projected that the case count could reach 50,000 a day by the reopening date.

Despite the rapid rise of Delta variant infections and warning from scientists that the pandemic is accelerating, Boris Johnson is preparing the country for the lifting of mandatory mask-wearing, limits on indoor gathering, working from home, and social distancing. In addition, all businesses, bars, restaurants, theatres, and cinemas will be able to operate at full capacity.

The controversial move by the Prime Minister came with a remark that restrictions could be reimposed in the winter.

“We must be honest with ourselves,” said Mr. Johnson on Monday, “that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves when will we be able to return to normal?”

While he acknowledged that the “pandemic is far from over,” Boris Johnson noted the UK must “balance the risks of the disease, which vaccines have greatly reduced, and the risks of continuing with legally enforced restrictions that inevitably take a toll on people’s lives.”

The decision is yet to be finalized on July 12 but the alarming rate of new cases is already causing health officials and lawmakers to greatly oppose the lifting of measures. Keir Starmer, Labour leader, called Mr. Johnson “reckless” and sided with unions that call for the mask-wearing mandate to remain compulsory at least in enclosed spaces and on public transport.

Steep Increase in Cases the UK

A dramatic worsening in the data shows that cases have climbed eight-fold since June 1 when the country was coming down from the peak of covid infections and reached a low of around 3,000 daily cases. On July 5, however, official data pointed daily cases have accelerated to over 27,000, bringing the total number of confirmed cases for the past seven days to over 178,000. The number marked a 53% increase compared with the prior week.

The highly infectious Delta variant has now spread to over 80 countries, including the US. It is considered as much as 80% more transmissible than the Alpha variant. According to a preliminary study by Israel’s health ministry, the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is less effective in protecting against the spread of the Delta strain than that of previous coronavirus mutations.

According to the initial plan to ease the lockdown in the UK, the reopening should have happened by June 21. Mr. Johnson then decided to delay the lifting of restrictions to allow more time for vaccines to be administered. Despite the high vaccination rate, the Delta variant flared up across the country in roughly two weeks. As of Monday, 86% of all adults in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and over 63% have had two.