Kolkata, India: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce “Freedom Day” next Wednesday when most pandemic restrictions in England will be lifted, but experts are concerned that the government is moving too quickly.
Johnson was scheduled to conduct a press conference in the afternoon, certifying that the government’s tests have been passed, allowing the economy to fully reopen on July 19, removing the remaining measures of a months-long lockdown, AFP reported.
However, with more than 30,000 instances of the fast-spreading Delta coronavirus strain being reported every day in the United Kingdom, scientists are concerned that eliminating measures like mandatory mask-wearing will cause problems.
After near-total flouting of distancing laws, the government’s decision to allow more than 60,000 football fans to attend Sunday’s European Championship final between England and Italy has added to the anxieties.
Johnson, on the other hand, believes that the time has come to shift from legally imposed rules to personal responsibility and that the summer months should be used to prepare for a potentially more destructive Covid-19 wave in the winter.
“We are tantalisingly close to the final milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown, but the plan to restore our freedoms must come with a warning,” he said in remarks previewing the announcement.
“While the phenomenal vaccine rollout has offered every adult some protection against the virus, and the crucial link between cases, hospitalizations, and deaths is weakened, the global pandemic is not over yet.
“Cases will rise as we unlock,” Johnson added, “so our message will be clear as we reaffirm our plans today.”
“Caution is absolutely vital, and we must all take responsibility so we don’t undo our progress, ensuring we continue to protect our NHS (National Health Service).”
Really Freedom Day?
While infection rates have jumped, deaths remain relatively stable in Britain after a mass vaccination campaign, and right-wing media are acclaiming July 19 as “Freedom Day”.
However, there are concerns that the campaign is losing steam, with lower participation percentages among younger adults.
According to Sarah Clarke, a board member of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine in the United Kingdom, ICU admissions have increased by 60% in the last week, and “we have over 500 patients being brought each day into intensive care units.”
“I would absolutely err on the side of extreme caution,” she told Times Radio about Johnson’s plan to end rules on masks and social distancing in England, AFP reported.
Keeping the public safe is “unsustainable” if “everyone decides to take off their masks and believe the vaccine program is no longer valid.”
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the UK’s other nations, have their own health policies and are proceeding more gradually.