The UK announced the four-phase gradual “unblocking” plan on Monday (February 22) evening, hoping to completely lift the epidemic prevention measures before June 21 this year, but these four phases must be gradually advanced under the relevant conditions. .
The first phase is planned to start in early March and includes the reopening of schools in England and the relaxation of social restrictions.
According to the plan announced by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (also translated as Johnson & Johnson), in the second phase, that is, on April 12 this year, shops, hair salons, gyms and outdoor restaurants can reopen in England.
In addition, starting from May 17th, two families can be allowed to visit and meet together, and up to six people can meet in a tavern.
However, whether each stage is open or not can be determined after testing the four criteria of vaccine injection situation, infection rate and monitoring of new coronavirus mutations.
The British Prime Minister stated in Parliament that the unblocking plan “will be implemented cautiously to avoid further changes.” In addition, the decision at each stage will be determined by “data rather than date”. He also said, “In the UK, there is no road to zero diagnosis, even in the world.”
Johnson later said at a press conference in Downing Street that the upcoming spring and summer will be “the season of hope. For all of us, we will all feel better than before.” He also called the plan ” “One way to freedom”, he cannot guarantee that the plan is irreversible, “but our goal is to achieve this.”
This unblocking plan was announced after the first release of the first data for the promotion of vaccination. According to the data, vaccination has “great” help in curbing the pneumonia epidemic.
Regarding the unblocking plan, Jenet Wang, a Taiwanese living in the UK, shared her views on Facebook “Taiwanese in the UK”, saying, “Everyone has been shut down for so long, and can’t wait to return to normal life. The closure policy is much more cautious than before, and we are gradually seeing the dawn of the end of the epidemic.”
However, some Chinese in the UK criticized the UK for poor epidemic prevention and severe epidemics on Facebook. The government’s previous instructions were unclear, and many people were still unwilling to wear masks. The situation after the unblocking of the ban has worried them.
As of this Monday (February 22), about 17 million people in the UK, or one-third of the entire population of the UK, have received the first dose of the new crown vaccine. However, 10,641 confirmed cases and 178 new deaths were reported that day.
The United Kingdom is one of the countries with the most severe COVID-19 epidemic in the world. So far, more than 4.1 million people have been infected. The confirmed cases are second only to the United States, India and Brazil, and more than 120,000 people have died. In December last year, the United Kingdom took the lead in the world and began vaccinating. It relaxed the epidemic prevention blockade around Christmas, resulting in a surge in confirmed cases, and announced the blockade measures again in early January 2021.
Four stages of unblocking the UK
Starting from March 8th, all schools in England will be open, allowing outdoor sports and activities after school. Allow two people to relax and entertain in outdoor public places (such as parks), which means they can sit down for drinks or have a picnic.
Starting March 29, two families or up to six people are allowed to gather together outdoors. This includes gatherings in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will be reopened, and sports for adults and children (such as cricket) will resume.
Middle school students can take exams and are required to wear masks in classrooms and corridors.
There must be at least a five-week interval between each unblocking stage to evaluate the change in the rate of new crown infection and the number of hospitalizations in each stage.
Starting from April 12, venues related to economic behavior will be reopened, including:
- Public places such as retail stores, hair salons, and libraries that sell non-essential goods are opened.
- Open outdoor spaces such as alcohol takeaway shops, beer gardens, zoos and theme parks.
- Indoor leisure facilities are open, such as swimming pools and gyms.
- Self-sufficient holiday accommodation, such as self-catering farmhouses and campgrounds.
However, some social activities continue to be prohibited. This means that different families are not allowed to gather together “indoor”.
Johnson also confirmed that the night curfew in England will be lifted, including dining and drinking, to save London’s troubled hotel industry. He also said that the results of the review of the current non-business international travel restrictions will be announced as early as April 12.
Travel in the UK is open (the same household can stay overnight). In addition, funerals can accommodate up to 30 people, and weddings can accommodate up to 15 guests.
The third phase of unblocking will begin on May 17 (provided that the previous data shows that it is feasible), the “six-person limit” for outdoor gatherings will be lifted and relaxed to 30 people.
- Allow two families or six people to gather together indoors and gather in outdoor hospitality places (such as bars), and check whether the outdoor six-person gathering limit is cancelled.
- Cinemas, museums, hotels, performances and sports competitions are open. Social distancing still needs to be implemented. Under this regulation, in some large football stadiums or outdoor venues, as many as 10,000 spectators can watch the game.
- It can accommodate up to 30 people to participate in weddings, receptions, funerals and spirits.
Johnson also said that this step will also “consider COVID-19 identification” (known as a vaccination passport) to help indoor places to reopen safely.
Before entering the fourth stage, British officials will review whether to continue to maintain social distancing and other “long-term measures” aimed at reducing the spread of the virus, including the “more than one meter” social distancing rule and the requirement to wear masks. The government will also consider whether to abolish the “work from home” guidelines. The government said the people should continue to follow the epidemic prevention regulations until the review of these policies is completed.
Starting on June 21, the government may remove all restrictions on social distancing and contact, and reopen the last batch of commercial space, such as nightclubs (clubs).
The government hopes to remove restrictions on the number of weddings and funerals from that day.
Those who organize music events call on the government to provide more financial support for this field. An operator of live music performances told the BBC that once the epidemic prevention restrictions are lifted, his industry “will reopen”.
British MPs will vote on the four-stage unblocking plan in late March.
The leader of the opposition Labor Party, Sir Keir Starmer, welcomed the plan, but he said that the government needs a plan for future unpaid leave for companies and workers.
Professor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London believes that the four-phase unblocking plan has been “appropriately balanced,” but he warned that reopening schools may increase the number of daily diagnoses.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser of the United Kingdom, said at the Downing Street epidemic press conference that a five-week interval between each phase is to avoid “blind action”. It is also “very important”.
He also said that those “basic” measures, such as covering the face, washing hands and self-isolation in some cases, may continue this winter.
During the pandemic, all parts of the UK have the right to set their own epidemic prevention policies, but to a large extent they are moving in the same direction, albeit at different speeds.
Scotland’s Chief Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that once the blockade measures are relaxed, Scotland will return to the classification restriction system. This means that epidemic prevention rules may be different in different regions. Sturgeon added that she will announce on Tuesday (February 23) that Scotland may cancel the phased plan of related epidemic prevention measures.
Welsh Chief Minister Mark Drakeford (Mark Drakeford) said that he hopes that the “stay at home” rule will end within three weeks and some shops and hair salons may reopen.
The Chief Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, hopes that her senior government officials will discuss with Johnson the date for the school to reopen.
- Mass vaccination continues;
- The vaccine effectively reduces hospitalization and mortality;
- The infection rate will not cause the hospitalization rate to rise again;
- Variant viruses will not change the risk assessment.
Analysis: the key role of vaccination
BBC health reporter Nick Triggle (Nick Triggle)
Since the beginning of this year, the vaccination situation has been good, and the level of new coronavirus infection has dropped five times.
So why do many people ask, why do you need to be so cautious about unblocking?
The answer lies in the big data attached to the government’s announcement of the unblocking method. The model was researched by Imperial University in London. This data shows that if the epidemic prevention restrictions are quickly relaxed, it may cause a surge in summer deaths, and there may be 80,000 new crown deaths by the middle of 2022.
But this model still raises some problems. For example, it does not take into account seasonal factors, because warm weather may reduce the spread of the virus.
In contrast, gradual unblocking can reduce the death toll to about 30,000. This is consistent with how we look at the death toll during the severe flu winter. Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical consultant of the United Kingdom, said that this is the background data for us to judge the epidemic.
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