The beautiful days are returning, the vaccine campaign is in full swing (more than 25% of Britons have already received a first injection against Covid-19), but the watchword remains caution. Monday, February 22, Boris Johnson, however renowned for his optimism, presented a plan to end the pandemic crisis for the United Kingdom very gradual, with a lifting of social and economic restrictions imposed on the British, for some since fall 2020, spread over four months. “Our plan is very careful, but irreversible”, promised the British Prime Minister in the House of Commons. Schools will reopen on March 8, but pubs, cafes, restaurants (for their room service) or cinemas not before, at best, May 17.
The epidemic has largely ebbed since the third wave engulfed the country in late 2020, forcing 10 Downing Street to close all schools on January 4. As of February 21, hospitalizations had fallen by 20% over one week, deaths attributed to the virus by 27% and the R, the reproduction rate of the virus, is only between 0.6 and 0.9 in the country – it is assumed that the epidemic decreases when this rate is less than 1.
However, since the highly contagious Kent variant became prevalent in the United Kingdom at the end of the year, other variants have also been identified on the territory (in Liverpool, Bristol or in Essex), some of which have the same genetic modification that is more resistant to vaccines than the South African variant, which concerns a few dozen cases in the country.
In addition, Boris Johnson has promised his fellow citizens: this third confinement must be the last. It is the political credibility of the Prime Minister – much criticized for his management of the pandemic in 2020 – and especially the morale of the British, while the United Kingdom risks accusing one of the worst recessions in Europe. There is no longer any question of repeating the errors of the second deconfinement, probably decreed too quickly, at the beginning of December, just when the Kent variant began to circulate actively in the south of the country.
Effects of the vaccination campaign
Priority was therefore given to schools in this deconfinement plan, the government worrying that young English people have now accumulated, since March 2020, five months without in schools. On March 8, establishments will therefore reopen for all levels and extracurricular sports activities can resume. In Scotland and Wales, pupils in the early grades have also partially returned since Monday.
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