British Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally has firmly vowed to totally withdraw the lockdown by July 19 as he has decided on “never going back”. He has vowed not to delay the easing of lockdown even longer and is confident the country will unlock fully in just four weeks. The Prime Minister pushed back the June 21 Freedom Day plans last evening and confirmed step four of his roadmap will now take place by July 19.
Johnson added he is “confident” no further delay will be necessary – unless the data worsens or a new variant emerges.
The PM told the nation: “I am confident we will not need more than 4 weeks and we will not go beyond July 19.
“But now is the time to ease off the accelerator.”
Prof Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance came armed with alarming data that the Delta variant – which was first identified in India – was up to 80 per cent more infectious and was doubling in a third of places.
But the experts said the jabs are “highly effective” against the Delta variant.
Meanwhile, anti-lockdown protests are seen on the streets in London and other cities.
The month-long delay means pubs will be restricted to table service, while theatres and cinemas will continue to be capped at just 50 per cent capacity.
People will be told to continue working from home if they can and nightclubs will remain closed.
Gigs will also take a hit, as the current rules allow for capacity limits of 50 per cent – or a maximum of 1,000 people – indoors.
Outdoor gatherings will remain limited to 30 people, meaning summer BBQs and picnics in the park will have to stay small.
The rule of six will also remain in place for indoor meet-ups, while face masks and social distancing will continue to be enforced.
However, the traditional big white wedding is finally back on the cards, with caps lifted on a strict 30-guest limit.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Brits in an unsarcastically somber address that the people must learn to live alongside the virus as “it will never disappear”.
Johnson told ministers stage four of his roadmap to freedom must be held back after he was presented with a paper on a potential worst-case scenario for the coming weeks.
The document revealed that a summer wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths is “likely” – whether or not restrictions are lifted.
Surging cases in the UK are being driven by the mutant Indian – or Delta – variant, which has become the country’s dominant strain in a matter of weeks.
And scientists have warned the potential peak death rate could be reduced from 700 to 500 a day if the final stage in unlocking is delayed.
The wait for ‘freedom day’ will reduce the number of deaths – but Brits are warned many more will die, despite the success of the jabs roll out.
Without the delay, 49,700 are likely to lose their lives – a horrific toll that reduces to around 43,500 with the wait, modelers say.
The paper is just one projection – and may never be realized.
For example, Sage predicted a range of scenarios this summer, including that by June 14, anywhere between 38,061 and 2,050 people would be in hospital.
The true number on that date was 993.
However, warnings drawn up by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will likely cause concern.
And epidemiologist Professor Mark Woolhouse of the University of Edinburgh said that while the Delta variant is “significantly harder to control”, some “very large” uncertainties around the number of possible deaths remain.
“Despite considerable uncertainty, there is a consistent pattern that delaying stage four for four to five weeks has a significant public health benefit,” he said.
“It reduces – by 20 to 30 per cent in the central scenarios – the total number of Covid-19 hospitalizations over the coming year.
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