The British experiment: As of today, there are no more corona measures in England
Despite the dramatic increase in the number of infections, almost all corona measures were lifted in England today, Monday. Neither the wearing of masks, distance rules nor numerical restrictions for events are now required in most of the British part of the country.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is committed to the responsibility of the people. But experts warn that the situation could get out of control despite the high vaccination rate. More than 50,000 cases are already registered every day – almost as many as at the height of the second wave at the turn of the year.
In the meantime, trade unions and employers’ associations advocated maintaining the mask requirement and simultaneously ending the obligation to self-isolate for vaccinated contact persons. There are already bottlenecks in many industries, especially with transport companies, because many employees are self-isolating. The head of the transport union RMT (The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union), Mick Lynch, warned that the opening day, often praised as “Freedom Day”, could otherwise become “Chaos Day”.
Johnson wanted to avoid isolation
In addition, the head of government did not set the best example at the weekend. After Health Minister Sajid Javid announced on Saturday that they had Covid-19 despite having been vaccinated twice, Johnson and his Finance Minister Rishi Sunak initially wanted to avoid the self-isolation that is actually required for contact persons. The two are taking part in a pilot project that instead provides for daily tests, it said on Sunday morning.
Less than three hours later, after a nationwide outcry – after all, hundreds of thousands of Britons are currently sitting at home asking for self-isolation – the government rowed back. Johnson was in self-isolation at his country estate Checkers, it was said.
From there, Johnson addressed his compatriots in a video message. He “thought briefly” about participating in the pilot, Johnson said. “But I think it is much more important that everyone abides by the same rules, and that is why I will go into self-isolation until July 26,” the conservative politician continued.
Johnson was confident that the high vaccination rate in the country would offer adequate protection against the pandemic even without further measures. Now 88 percent of adults in the UK have had a first vaccination. Almost 68 percent have already been vaccinated twice. “The massive vaccination program has severely weakened the link between contagion and hospitalization and between contagion and serious illness and death,” said Johnson.
Epidemiologists are skeptical
But experts doubt whether the protection provided by the vaccinations will be sufficient to withstand a large wave of infections. According to epidemiologist Neil Ferguson from Imperial College in London, it is “almost inevitable” that the number of new infections every day will soon exceed 100,000. “The real question is whether it will be twice as much, or even more,” Ferguson told the BBC on Sunday. In the worst case, if the number of hospital admissions reaches 2,000 or 3,000 daily, measures would have to be taken to get the pandemic under control again, he warned.
Johnson really wants to prevent that. He had always described his country’s path out of lockdown as “cautious but irreversible”. “Please, please, be careful,” he pleaded with the British. It seems questionable whether he can still convince.
The easing only applies to the largest part of the British country, England, which does not have a government of its own. The regional governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are responsible for their own health policies. (sda / dpa)
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