Britain is coming out of a four-week lockdown today and returning to a three-tier system of restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hoping to lift the restrictions in the spring thanks to vaccine launches. -19 and a campaign to conduct mass diagnostic tests.
This was the second quarantine imposed in England to stop the second wave of coronavirus in the European country that has recorded the most deaths (more than 59,000 for 1.6 million cases).
A three-tier warning system comes into force by February, according to which local restrictions are imposed depending on the severity of the epidemic situation.
“We have to be realistic and accept (…) that there is no vaccine yet” in development, which will allow a return to normalcy, Johnson explained in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
“Until then we can not allow ourselves to relax, especially during the cold winter months,” he added, justifying his government’s decision to impose this three-tier system.
Now all over England all the unnecessary shops can be reopened, to the great relief of the shopkeepers in view of Christmas. Gyms are also reopening, and religious services and weddings can be held.
Residents of England can meet up to six people at most, while in areas with the highest alert levels only outdoors.
Anger of MPs
Almost all of England, an area of around 55 million people, has been alerted 2 or 3, with the exception of White Island, Cornwall and the Isle of Wight, which have the lowest alert levels.
The restrictions – which mainly affect the operation of pubs and restaurants as well as indoor gatherings – are stricter than before the lockdown, much to the anger of many lawmakers, including Johnson’s Conservative Party. They fear the catastrophic consequences of the restrictions on the economy, which has already been weakened since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic.
To support the stores during the Christmas period, the government decided to allow them to choose their own opening hours, with some chains deciding to operate 24 hours a day.
During yesterday’s vote on the government plan, Labor MPs decided to abstain. Their leader Kir Starmer assessed that the financial support provided by the government to the most affected areas is insufficient and expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the new measures in the absence of an adequate tracking system.
The government acknowledged the significant economic impact of the restrictive measures, but stressed that the effects of the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus would be much worse for public health.
However, these arguments did not convince some Conservative MPs, 55 of whom voted against the government plan and 16 abstained, bringing Johnson to the biggest uprising within his party since his election as president of the Tories.
The measures, which were finally adopted by 291 votes to 78, will be reviewed every two weeks, with the first estimate being made on 16 December. “This will allow us to maintain the progress we made last month and keep the virus under control,” a government spokesman said yesterday.
Despite advances in reducing the spread of covid-19, with the number of new daily infections falling by about a third during the lockdown, according to research by Imperial College, it is unlikely that measures will be relaxed before Christmas. .
The British will have a break at Christmas, when gatherings will be allowed for five days – from 23 to 27 December – but not more than three households.
In other parts of Britain the strategy is different. Scotland also has a system of local restrictions. In Wales, after a 17-day quarantine that ended in early November, authorities announced that from Friday the pubs would close at 18:00 and they would be banned from selling alcohol, in the hope that the epidemic would be kept under control before Christmas.