The whole country was confined again in early January to fight the Covid-19 epidemic which has killed more than 120,000 in the United Kingdom and brought hospitals to the brink of crisis
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson presents this Monday, February 22, his plan to get England out of confinement, in the hope that it will be the last and with the aim of the imminent reopening of schools. The whole country was again confined at the beginning of January to fight against the Covid-19 epidemic which has killed more than 120,000 in the United Kingdom and brought hospitals to the brink of the crisis.
The effects of confinement and vaccinations being felt, with a drop in the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Boris Johnson can outline deconfinement measures. He will present them to parliament in the afternoon before a televised press conference in the evening.
Despite the progress, the deconfinement will be “cautious” and “progressive”, however warned Boris Johnson. “Our priority has always been to get children back to school, which is crucial for their education as well as for their mental and physical well-being.” He also wants to allow people to “find their loved ones in safety” after months of isolation, by allowing reunions outside.
Boris Johnson said any decision would be taken on the basis of the scientific evidence at his disposal, and with caution “so as not to undo the progress” made and the “sacrifices” made. Schools could reopen from March 8.
Tighter border controls
The government has already announced that from March 8, residents of nursing homes will be able to welcome a visitor inside, provided they test negative for Covid-19 and wear a mask. This news comes after the success of the first phase of the vaccination campaign, with 15 million people having received a first dose in mid-February, including residents of retirement homes. Since then, the campaign has been extended to over 65s and “clinically vulnerable” people. By mid-April, those over 50 should all have received a first dose of the vaccine.
While families hope to see the end of the tunnel, particularly affected economic sectors such as hotels and restaurants, may have to wait a few weeks, to the dismay of pub owners.
“The pub has always been more than just a place to drink,” said Emma McClarkin, managing director of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA). The Labor Party defends the reduction of VAT to help this sector.
In the United Kingdom, each of the four nations decides on its deconfinement strategy. Schools in Scotland and Wales are gradually reopening from Monday, starting with the smallest primary grades.
While preparing for deconfinement, the government has tightened border controls. Since last Monday, British residents and Irish citizens arriving in England from 33 countries classified at risk must observe ten days of quarantine in a hotel, at their expense.
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