British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly set to release information Monday about lifting the U.K.’s lockdown measures, including bringing children back to school.
The plan includes four different conditions that must be met at each stage of the “lockdown easing,” and the first stage will apply to “the whole of England,” as reported by the BBC.
Johnson said data will be used to inform “every step” of lifting restrictions. “We will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe,” he added.
The four conditions that need to “be met at each phase of lockdown easing” are as follows:
- The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
- New variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions
Downing Street acknowledged these four tests are currently being achieved, so the first phase of easing the current lockdown status will go forward on March 8. Members of Parliament will also be given the opportunity to vote on the regulations in coming weeks.
A BBC analysis reports that “controlling infection and keeping R below 1” (“R” being a way of rating the coronavirus’s ability to spread) is no longer the most important aspect to reopening. “That much is clear from the government’s four tests for its roadmap to lift lockdown in England. Infection rates are only being seen as a problem if they risk a surge in hospital admissions…Scottish researchers have found a ‘spectacular’ reduction in the risk of serious illness four weeks after the first dose of the vaccine is given. The link between infections and serious illness is being broken.”
The first stage of reopening will be separated into two parts.
Beginning March 8, “All schools will open with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed. Recreation in a public space — such as a park — will be allowed between two people, meaning they would be allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic …”
It is reportedly thought that there will be a few days of flexibility built into reopening schools in order to provide for certain structures to be put in place, such as testing.
In addition, starting on March 29, “Outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. It is understood this will include gatherings in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, will also return …”
New rules on March 8 will also allow each care home resident in England to have “one regular visitor, with whom they can hold hands.”
And from March 29 it is reportedly understood that people will be able to travel out of their areas — “although guidance will likely still recommend staying local, and overnight stays will not be permitted.”
This reopening plan demonstrates how strict the U.K. lockdowns have been; however, they also show the country’s ability to phase into a looser structure and open schools and activities for children as the positive effects of a vaccine begin to become visible.
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