Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an update on the Coronavirus-Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual press conference at 10 Downing Street on March 18, 2021 in London, England.
Tolga Akmen – WPA Pool | Getty Images
LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson detailed the final steps to relax UK lockdown rules on Monday, with a final decision to be taken on July 12th.
“If we cannot reopen our society in the next few weeks, if the summer and school holidays help us, we have to ask ourselves, when can we reopen?” Downing Street.
“Freedom Day” – or “Step 4” in the government’s long-term plan to ease restrictions – will take place on July 19, when the government’s “four tests” to ease Covid restrictions are met.
The tests include examining data to confirm that vaccine delivery is continuing successfully and that infection rates do not risk an increase in hospital admissions. These will be assessed on July 12th after a review of the latest data.
Johnson said Monday that there would be no limit to how many people can meet socially or where they can meet. He said the rules that required face masks would be lifted and people would no longer be instructed to work from home.
Any remaining stores that are currently closed, such as nightclubs, are allowed to reopen and the social distancing rules would also end.
Johnson reiterated that Covid will become a virus we learn to live with, as we do with the flu, admitting that reopening would likely result in more deaths.
“It has become increasingly clear that these vaccines are indeed successful in the majority of unvaccinated hospital admissions.”
The lifting of restrictions in England was previously slated for June 21, but was delayed as the highly transferable Delta variant spread across the UK
While infection rates have increased, hospitalizations and deaths have not increased, suggesting that coronavirus vaccines are helping to prevent serious infections.
The UK government has previously signaled reluctance to maintain restrictions longer than strictly necessary. This is despite some concerns among medical professionals and opposition politicians that the restrictions could be lifted too quickly if the variant spreads across the UK, Europe and beyond.
The UK’s Covid vaccination program was one of the fastest in the world, with 86% of the adult population now receiving a first dose of a vaccine and 63.8% two doses, government data shows.