London (AP) – England will lift almost all Corona measures on July 19 and largely return to normal. Distance rules and mask requirements are ending, nightclubs are allowed to reopen and there are no more crowd restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed this in London on Monday – and at the same time called for caution. “This pandemic is far from over. This disease continues to endanger you and your families,” Johnson said. The population cannot simply come back to life as before the corona pandemic. On the contrary, the government expects ‘common sense’ from everyone. Political observers in London criticized the government for wanting to shift responsibility to the people.
Due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, the number of new infections in Great Britain has risen sharply recently. The seven-day incidence, ie the number of new cases per 100,000 people in one week, was last at 311.7 (as of July 7).
The government strongly recommends continuing to wear masks in crowded places such as public transportation, Johnson said. In addition, nightclubs and other entertainment venues are urged to check the vaccination status of their guests and visitors using digital evidence. But then there is no legal basis for that anymore. The strict entry rules, requiring quarantine for people who have not been vaccinated or for those coming from “red countries”, remain in place, the prime minister said.
Johnson’s scientific advisers admitted that the number of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths would continue to rise if corona rules are now relaxed. How strong this increase will be will depend on the behavior of the population, said chief science adviser Patrick Vallance. He said full vaccination significantly reduced the risk of infection and death. However, the scientific panel of experts warns Sage in a report published Monday of at least 1,000 hospitalizations and 100 to 200 deaths per day.
“Not a perfect time for this step”
Health Minister Sajid Javid said in parliament that the requirements for lifting the corona rules have been met. The move is possible thanks to the efforts of the British and the vaccination program. “To those who ask why we are taking this step now, I say, if not now, then when?” said Javid. “There won’t be a perfect time for this step because we just can’t eradicate this virus.” At the same time, the minister emphasized that the government will remain vigilant. She is ready to react hard if new, more dangerous corona variants make it necessary.
From 19 July, UK residents who have been fully vaccinated or who are minors will be able to enter the country without quarantine. This does not apply to tourists – not even to those who have received both doses necessary for full vaccination protection. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he was working on a solution.
The easing only applies to the largest British part of the country, England, which does not have its own government. The regional governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are responsible for their own health policies. There it will take longer before the corona rules are lifted.