London (AP) – The approaching end of most of England’s Corona rules has come under sharp criticism. The head of the medical association BMA, Chaand Nagpaul, on Tuesday called the project “irresponsible and – frankly – dangerous”.
He warned of “potentially devastating consequences” and criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson in particular. “The prime minister has repeatedly stressed the importance of slow and prudent action,” Nagpaul said. But in reality, the government is throwing all caution to the wind by lifting all regulations in one fell swoop.” The government, however, defended the announcement.
Johnson had confirmed the day before that virtually all remaining corona rules will be lifted on July 19. This means that the distance obligation and the mask obligation no longer apply, nightclubs can open again and there are no more public restrictions for events. Johnson urged the public to continue wearing masks in crowded places, and urged nightclubs and event organizers to check their guests with a digital vaccination card. However, this is not required by law. Due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, the number of new corona infections throughout the country has risen sharply in recent times.
There is a particular dispute over the mask requirement. Several stores announced that they would continue to insist on wearing masks in their rooms. Health Minister Sajid Javid said in parliament that mouth and nose masks still make sense in some situations. The government makes its decisions based on the best possible scientific advice. “We believe people will use their common sense and follow that advice,” Javid said. In contrast, government advisers have also made it clear that the easing is a political decision.
The scientific expert committee Sage, which advises the government, expects 1,000 to 4,800 hospital admissions and 100 to 400 deaths every day due to the corona easing – depending on how people behave. A major nightclub operator has already refused to check vaccination records. As the “Health Service Journal” reported, the number of corona patients in clinics has risen nearly 50 percent in the past week. The online magazine “Politico” quoted a cabinet member that the government was flying blind. Opposition Labor Party health expert Jonathan Ashworth spoke of a “fatalistic approach” by the government.
“Not a perfect time” to open
Treasury Secretary Stephen Barclay told Sky News there was no perfect time for the opening. Vaccination success now offers a window of time, also with a view to the coming school holidays. The country must “go back to normal” and learn to live with the virus. However, he admitted that the rules could be reintroduced if the situation worsens.
The relaxation only applies in England, which does not have its own government. As health policy in the UK is a matter for individual countries, regional governments are responsible for the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon also announced further easing on Tuesday for July 19. In the north of the country, unlike England, mask requirements remain, nightclubs remain closed and there are upper limits on participation in private gatherings and public events.