COVID-19: Boris Johnson to reveal final stages of UK lockdown easing
- UK coronavirus restrictions are set to ease on 19th July as planned.
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK must learn to live with COVID-19 and will soon reveal the final steps of exiting lockdown.
- Wearing face masks in public places will soon become voluntary.
- The National Medical Director of NHS England says the NHS have learned to cope with rising COVID-19 cases.
- The UK reports another 24,248 coronavirus cases and 15 more deaths.
- Ibiza and Balearic Islands could lose green travel list status following 500 COVID-19 cases in 2 days.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to confirm during a press conference today that the UK’s remaining coronavirus lockdown restrictions will be eased on 19th July 2021 as planned. Mr Johnson has previously stated that the UK must learn to live with COVID-19 and will soon see numerous changes to social distancing measures.
The upcoming ‘Freedom Day’ will also see abolishing the one-metre social distancing rule and the need to scan a QR code to check into hospitality venues, which should help to increase profitability within the sector.
Whilst it is anticipated that UK coronavirus infections will rise once the restrictions have been lifted, it’s thought that deaths and hospital admissions will reduce due to increased vaccinations.
New UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid also confirmed that the UK was on target to lift coronavirus restrictions as planned in the House of Commons last week. Mr Javid will make a statement regarding the easing of coronavirus restrictions today, shortly after the Prime Minister.
The final stage of the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown was initially due to end on 30th June 2021 but was delayed until 19th July 2021 due to a rise in Delta COVID variant cases. Although restrictions are set to ease, Mr Johnson highlighted that the coronavirus pandemic is not over.
The criteria for the UK government lifting coronavirus restrictions on the 19th July 2021 is based on four tests: the speed of COVID-19 vaccination rollouts, vaccine effectiveness, manageable hospital admissions, and reduced risk of COVID variant cases. The results of the four tests will be confirmed on 12th July 2021, though it seems that the UK is on course to meet these targets.
Mr Johnson will also provide an update today on changes relating to care home visits. UK Care Minister Helen Whately said that care home visits are unlikely to return to complete normality once coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, with some control measures remaining in place.
The Prime Minister is also set to urge remaining individuals to receive their coronavirus vaccine. According to the latest figures, over 63% of the UK adult population has received a second dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 86% have received the first dose.
Wearing face masks in public places will become voluntary
Perhaps one of the most significant changes with the easing of UK coronavirus restrictions is that wearing face masks in public places will become voluntary. In addition, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce that UK citizens will be asked to ‘use their judgement’ when assessing coronavirus risks.
Robert Jenrick, UK Secretary of State for Housing, stated that wearing ace covering will soon become a personal choice and the public should exercise good judgement to decide whether it is appropriate to wear one.
Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director for NHS England, said that although the UK is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, infections are rising at a slower pace compared to previous waves the UK has experienced.
Although face masks will no longer be mandatory, Chaand Nagpaul, the chairman of the British Medical Association, said that it made no sense to stop wearing face masks in public when there is currently a rise in Delta COVID variant cases. Mr Nagpaul stated that face masks have been proven to prevent the spread of infection and implied that the British public should continue to wear them.
UK Care Minister Helen Whately stated that whilst she looks forward to the day of not having to wear a face mask, she will continue to be cautious and follow UK government guidance to make the right judgement.
Paul Nowak, deputy general secretary of the Trade Unions Congress, was critical of the UK government’s new approach to managing COVID-19 risks and did not believe that responsibility should be left to the British public. Mr Nowak likened the set-up to the UK government ‘washing their hands’ of any responsibilities.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said that wearing face masks should remain mandatory in specific settings, warning that UK coronavirus related hospital admissions had recently increased to 55% in one week.
NHS prepared for a rise in coronavirus cases
Although coronavirus cases are forecast to rise over the coming months, Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said that the NHS is prepared for the upcoming admissions.
Accident and Emergency (A&E) admissions have experienced an increase over the past few months with UK travel and hospitality sectors reopening, but Professor Powis stated that the NHS are now accustomed to coping with the pressure. The Professor confirmed a close eye would be kept on coronavirus data but overall felt confident that the UK was in a good position to enter the fourth stage of the exit roadmap.
Data indicates that UK hospital admissions from COVID-19 will become around ten times less due to the UK’s successful coronavirus vaccination programme.
These comments follow news that the UK recently recorded 24,248 coronavirus cases and 15 more deaths. On the 1st June 2021, the UK’s seven-day average for new coronavirus infections was 3,304 and has since surged to 24,429 as of 4th July 2021. However, hospitalisations from these new coronavirus cases are currently around 1,700, significantly less from the beginning of this year.
Although infections have risen rapidly over the past month, the number of COVID-related deaths is decreasing due to vaccinations. Back in January 2021, daily COVID-related deaths stood at around 1,200 each day, suggesting that vaccines have broken the chain between infections and fatalities.
Ibiza and Balearic Islands could lose green travel list status
The Balearic Islands, which include popular holiday destinations such as Ibiza, could soon be taken off the UK’s green travel list after reporting a rise of 500 coronavirus cases in just two days. 303 coronavirus cases were reported yesterday, and 233 reported the previous day. Countries on the green travel list mean that UK holidaymakers will not have to quarantine after returning to the UK.
Health officials confirmed that the rate of positive coronavirus cases has surged from 6.76% last Saturday up to 8.5% the next day and has been labelled as a critical situation.
Data also shows that there are currently fourteen COVID cases in the region, resulting in intensive care hospitalisation, including ten in Majorca, one in Menorca and three in Ibiza.
Although the UK government recently upgraded the region to the green travel list, it also placed it on a watchlist, meaning that it could revert to the amber travel list during the next review if the health situation worsened. Other countries which were also placed on the green watchlist Madeira, Cayman Islands and Antigua.
During the upcoming travel review, the UK government said they would look at emerging evidence, observing rising infections and COVID variants. Tourists travelling to areas on the green watchlist must be mindful that the status of their travel destination could suddenly change at short notice. A statement from the UK government said they would not hesitate to take action if holiday destinations abroad posed a health risk.
The beginning of June 2021 saw Portugal downgraded to the amber travel list, causing havoc for hundreds of UK travellers.
Despite coronavirus vaccines, it’s thought that the increase of coronavirus cases across the Balearics was largely down to young people. Past weeks have seen students travelling from mainland Spain to Majorca for their end of term break.
Spain’s health minister Carolina Darias stated that coronavirus vaccines remain the most powerful weapon against rising infections, noting that the country must not let its guard down.
The Balearic Islands moving to the amber travel list would be a significant blow to the travel industry who are relying on a busy summer to aid their economic recovery.