Johnson has confirmed that the government aims to end restrictive measures on July 19, with a final decision due next week. He said this step would remove formal limits on social contact, instruction to work from home and mandates to wear face masks.
After imposing the most onerous behavioral restraints in British peacetime history to fight the novel coronavirus, Johnson is betting the vaccination program, which has weakened the link between infections and admissions to hospital, can prevent health services from being overwhelmed by a new wave of COVID -19.
Confirmed cases have risen from around 2,000 a day earlier this year to 25,000 a day last week. But the number of deaths is generally stable, at less than 20 per day.
According to plans, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen and there will be no capacity limit for reception venues. Social distancing guidelines will be removed.
“We have to be honest with ourselves that if we cannot reopen our company in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, then we must ask ourselves when can we? return. To normal? Johnson said Monday at a press conference.
“We are going to move away from legal restrictions and allow people to make their own informed decisions on how to deal with the virus,” he added.
The Johnson government sets health policy for England, but not for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Britain has suffered the seventh death toll in the world from COVID-19, and Johnson has been accused of being too slow to implement each of England’s three lockdowns.
But vaccine uptake in Britain has been strong, with 86% of adults receiving a first dose and 64% receiving two doses on Monday, government data showed.
Figures from Public Health England indicate that the vaccines are very effective in preventing the Delta variant from leading to serious illness or hospitalization, after two doses.
“Very far from the end”
Johnson also said people under 40 would be invited for their second injection of COVID-19 starting eight weeks after their first dose, rather than 12 weeks, which is in line with policy for those over 40. years.
He added that even though he thought it was the best time to end the restrictions, people should still be careful and containment measures could be reinstated if necessary.
“This pandemic is far from over, it certainly won’t be over by the 19th,” Johnson said.
“I did not want people to feel that it is, so to speak, the moment to celebrate the demo … it is very far from the end of the management of this virus”, added the Prime Minister.
Earlier, new Health Minister Sajid Javid said the number of infections in Britain would rise significantly from current levels.
“It is important that we are honest with the British people: COVID-19 cases are on the rise and they will continue to rise significantly. We can reasonably expect that by July 19 the number of daily cases will be much higher than today, ”Javid told Parliament.
Criticism of the opposition
Labor leader Keir Starmer criticized the plan and said some legal measures, such as requiring masks to be worn on public transport, should be maintained.
“It is unwise to remove all protections when the infection rate increases,” he told broadcasters.
The government’s focus on personal judgment has raised concern among scientists, who fear that hospitals and doctors will be called upon again if the Delta variant goes insane or if new strains emerge.
“Allowing people to make their own choices about this is, in effect, ceding control of the security of these spaces to the less informed, less caring and insensitive members of society,” said Peter English, former president of British Medical. Association’s Public Health Medicine Committee.
England Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said he would always wear a mask ‘in any indoor and crowded situation’ or ‘if someone else is uncomfortable out of courtesy “.
And he hinted at possible tension between scientists and ministers, saying at a press conference: “Ministers decide, advisers advise.”
An instant YouGov poll, meanwhile, showed 71% of Britons believe face masks should continue to be mandatory on public transport.