COVID-19: Prime Minister’s bet to end restrictions comes with conditions – and it’s a tough time for all of us

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COVID-19: Prime Minister’s bet to end restrictions comes with conditions – and it’s a tough time for all of us


When the prime minister laid out his “cautious but irreversible route” out of lockdown in February, the final lifting of all restrictions was billed as the finish line.

But as the day finally draws near, we shift instead to another speed and another leg of the journey.

When it comes to COVID-19[feminine[feminine there is not, in the words of a number 10, a “mission accomplished moment” in which Downing Street declares victory (prematurely).

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‘Not having a great jubilee’ July 19 – PM

Instead, the government is trying to take us to a new phase where we move from government diktat to personal and corporate responsibility – we learn to live with COVID.

More remove the rules and instead, asking us to make decisions on government recommendations even as infection rates and hospitalizations rise is nerve-racking.

And that’s why Boris Johnson went out of his way on Monday to point out that July 19 was “not an invitation to a giant jubilee”.

“I cannot say it with enough force or emphasis: this pandemic is not over,” he said.

What ends is a policy framework determined by the government to deal with the virus.

The only legal obligation that will remain beyond July 19 will be to isolate yourself if you have COVID or come into close contact with an infected person for another three and a half weeks until August 16.

With an eye on the looming increase in cases during the third summer wave, Mr Johnson has tried to implore people and businesses to take responsibility for trying to limit transmission. And it was a big change of direction.

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“This pandemic is not over” – PM

Regarding face masks, the prime minister said it was his “expectation” – last week it was a “suggestion” – that people continue to wear them in crowded indoor spaces.

He also urged companies to gradually bring workers back to offices and told nightclubs and other crowded places to use vaccine passports on entry “as part of social responsibility.”

But it is a painful moment.

Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance were clear on Monday that there would be a wave of exits and the more the public stick to last year’s behavior and slowly loosen restrictions, the better we will handle it.

Do it quickly, and the risk is that the NHS will be overwhelmed.

Professor Whitty stressed during Monday’s press conference that the modeling suggested that the pressure on the NHS would not be ‘unsustainable’ if carried out slowly.

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But the figures are worrying.

With hospitalization rates now increasing almost at the same rate as cases, admissions could reach 1,000 to 2,000 people per day with 100 to 200 daily deaths, according to the latest modeling.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has warned of 100,000 cases a day in the coming weeks. When the numbers reach these kinds of levels, it will be difficult for ministers to keep their cool.

But this wave of exit is different in two critical ways.

Vaccine weakened link between hospitalizations and deaths and vaccine rollout, coupled with rising infection rates, gives ministers hope the virus will eventually run out of steam as people build up their immunity via vaccine or infection.

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“Recommended” masks in overcrowded areas after July 19

What is also different is the Prime Minister’s confidence that he can make us overcome COVID in an “irreversible” way.

Not only does “Freedom Day” come with conditions, but with the very real prospect that elements of our freedom may soon be reversed.

The clue is already there with the government using forceful language to mandate the COVID Pass if “some sites that operate large, overcrowded spaces” do not take sufficient action to limit the infection.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer believes the Prime Minister’s acceleration in lifting restrictions as cases rise is a car crash waiting to happen, describing Mr Johnson’s government as one that ‘wants to put the country in a car without a seat belt, we need a safer way. “

Mr Johnson is hoping he can overcome this wave of exits, but it is a big gamble.

From next week, it will be up to each of us to manage this pandemic with no guarantees of its progress, beyond my sure prediction that we are heading into a very turbulent summer.

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