British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in contact and in isolation, called on the population to be “careful” on Sunday, on the eve of the lifting of almost all restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic in England, in the midst of outbreak of contaminations.
“Please be careful and take the next step tomorrow [de ce déconfinement] with all due care and respect towards others, and the risks that the disease continues to present, ”argued the conservative leader, while in the United Kingdom, the Delta variant of the virus is responsible for a sharp increase in cases for several weeks.
The “right time” despite everything
Forced to isolate himself until July 26 after being in contact with Minister of Health Sajid Javid, who announced on Saturday to be positive for Covid-19, Boris Johnson “will continue to hold meetings with ministers remotely”, from Checkers, the country residence of heads of government in north-west London, the Downing Street spokesman said.
“Please be careful,” pleaded Boris Johnson in a video posted on his Twitter account in which he underlines the “extreme contagiousness” of the Delta variant of the virus. He nevertheless assured Sunday that it was the “right time” to proceed with this major stage of deconfinement, renamed “Freedom Day”, while calling on the population to be vigilant.
Like so many people I’ve been pinged by NHS Test and Trace as I have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, and I will be self-isolating until Monday 26th July. pic.twitter.com/X57gDpwDqe
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) July 18, 2021
Boris Johnson justifies this step by the success of a vaccination campaign carried out with vigor since December – more than two thirds of fully vaccinated adults – which has “strongly weakened” according to him the link between illness, hospitalizations and death, allowing the public system health to cope. There are currently some 550 Covid-19 patients in intensive care compared to more than 4,000 at the peak of the second wave, in January.
End of the compulsory mask despite the surge in contamination
From Monday, teleworking will no longer be the norm. Performance halls and stadiums will reopen at full capacity, discotheques will once again be able to accommodate the public, bar service will again be possible in pubs and the number of people allowed to assemble will no longer be limited. The mask will no longer be compulsory but recommended in transport and shops.
This great relaxation is considered “imprudent” by the Labor opposition, faced with the rise in contaminations due to the Delta variant, which is particularly contagious. The number of daily contaminations could reach 100,000 within a few weeks, by the admission of the Minister of Health.
Labor Party leader Keir Starmer on Twitter denounced a government in “chaos”, sending conflicting messages on the eve of the lifting of almost all remaining restrictions in England, including the requirement to wear masks or social distancing.
The “risk of undermining efforts to control the pandemic”
A group of influential international scientists on Friday called on the government to reverse its decision which “risks undermining efforts to control the pandemic not only in the United Kingdom, but also in other countries”. In addition to the infected people, millions of people, in case of contact, were asked to stay at home for ten days.
Pressure from business circles is mounting for the application used by the public health service to be revised due to the large number of people contacted, which raises fears of staff shortages preventing certain services from functioning. On Saturday, a London Underground line had to be interrupted for lack of sufficient staff in the control room.
At the borders, an easing comes into effect Monday for certain destinations. People fully vaccinated in the UK and coming from countries classified as “orange”, including many tourist destinations like Italy or Spain, will no longer need to observe quarantine on arrival in England.
Quarantine maintained for arrivals from France
The arrivals from France will have to continue to observe a quarantine because of the “persistent presence” of cases of the Beta variant, which worries the government because of its resistance to the AstraZeneca vaccine, widely used in the United Kingdom.
The Covid-19 has killed more than 128,600 people in the United Kingdom where contamination has skyrocketed for weeks, with a total of more than 585,000 cases recorded since July 1. The country is the most affected in Europe in number of cases, exceeding the threshold of 50,000 new daily contaminations on Friday and Saturday.