Nevertheless, the British government has lifted all pandemic restrictions in England, including rules on the use of masks and social distancing. warnings from scientists that the measure will further drive an already growing pandemic and risk creating new variants.
The sidewalks rose at midnight (23:00 GMT) on Sunday as the laws requiring masks and how to work from home were dismissed. Rising standards mean nightclubs have also been able to reopen for the first time since the UK first closed in March last year. Other indoor spaces such as theaters and cinemas will also be able to operate at full capacity.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is isolated after the Minister of Health Sajid Javid tested positive for COVID-19, urged people to remain cautious. His government hopes the launch of coronavirus vaccines in the UK will help protect the country, even as infections rise to levels last seen in January.
“If we don’t do it now we have to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it?” Johnson said in a video message filmed Sunday.
“This is the right time, but we must do it with caution. We must remember that this virus, unfortunately, is still there. “
If vaccines continue to prove effective in reducing serious illness and death even with infections at record levels, Johnson’s decision could inform the approaches of other highly vaccinated countries about removing coronavirus restrictions.
But the strategy carries risks: above all, that a variant capable of resisting vaccines may arise or that the number of cases may overwhelm the health system and stop the country.
On Friday, leading international scientists described what some have called England’s “Freedom Day” as a threat to the world and 1,200 scientists backed a letter to the leading British medical journal, The Lancet. , criticizing the decision of the Conservative government.
“I’m scared, I can’t think of any good realistic scenario to get out of this strategy,” Julian Tang, a clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, told the Associated Press news agency. “I think it’s really a degree of bad that it will be.”
Thousands of clubs were ready to dance the night away as the rules were scrapped and nightclubs reopened, closed since March 2020.
“I haven’t been allowed to dance like it seems forever,” Georgia Pike, 31, told Hackney’s Oval Space. “I want to dance, I want to listen to live music, I want the atmosphere of being at a concert, of being around other people.”
But under the excitement, there was also concern about the wave of new cases.
According to Our World in Data, the number of daily cases in the UK per million is currently one of the highest in the world.
“I’m very excited, but it mixes with the feeling of impending doom,” said Gary Cartmill, 26.
Nearly 129,000 people have died as a result of COVID-19 in the UK, the seventh highest death toll in the world. Sunday reported 48,161 new cases and 25 deaths.
About 87 per cent of Britain’s adult population has had a dose of vaccination and more than 68 per cent, the two doses needed to provide the strongest protection against serious illness and death.
Johnson sets COVID-19 restrictions for England, with decentralized administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland taking a mostly more cautious approach.
The government’s top medical adviser has warned that the crisis could return quickly if case numbers increase. There are currently just under 4,000 people hospitalized with coronavirus.
One concern, Tang says, is of “super variants” that could arise when people are allowed to mix without precautions during the UK summer. Add a resurgence of the flu as the weather gets colder and that means “a winter of very severe proportions,” he said.