On Monday Jul 19th, Brits celebrated “Freedom Day”, because of the nationwide lifting of all pandemic restrictions on daily life. This move will result in scrapping all social distancing throughout the country. However, some critics liken the move to a dangerous leap into the unknown.
The British government is in favour of restarting an economy damaged by a series of on-off lockdowns since March 2020. Therefore, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a decision to lift all regulations on Jul 19th. This marks a new chapter in the global response to the coronavirus. Also, local media are describing this day as “Freedom Day”.
Nightclubs were able to reopen to resume business from midnight. Also, elsewhere, other indoor venues allowed to run at full capacity. Meanwhile, legal mandates covering working from home and the wearing of face masks were also scrapped.
However, Prime Minister Johnson urged the public to remain on guard. He also calls on those left behind to join the two-thirds of UK adults who are now fully vaccinated.
Ironically, the Prime Minister is currently self-isolating, after his Health Minister was infected.
Johnson defends the reopening of England
Johnson defends the decision to reopening, called “Freedom Day” by local media. This is despite grave apprehension by scientists. Britain topped 50,000 daily infection rates at the peak of the pandemic in the UK. At that time, only Indonesia and Brazil overtook Britain in this regard.
In a video message, Prime Minister Johnson said “If we don’t do it now, then we’ll be opening up in the autumn, the winter months, when the virus has the advantage of the cold weather.”
A “precious firebreak” is offered by this week’s start of the summer school holidays, according to Johnson.
“If we don’t do it now, we’ve got to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it?”
Britain leads the way
Johnson’s decision could influence other highly vaccinated countries’ approach to returning to normal. This however, can only happen if vaccines continue to prove effective. The vaccines must be able to reduce deaths and severe illness, even while infections reach record levels.
However, like everything else, the strategy has risks accompanying it. A new variant capable of resisting current vaccines could be the most notable risk. Such a situation may lead to a caseload that could grow so severe. It may even see the economy grinding to a halt again. Johnson, while bearing this in mind, has urged the public to take a cautious approach to the reopening.
“This is the right moment but we’ve got to do it cautiously. We’ve got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there.”
In world statistics, Britain has the seventh highest death toll at 128,708. Scientists forecast a higher daily infection rate very soon, compared to the peak of the second COVID-19 wave earlier this year. There were 48,161 new cases reported on Sunday. The current daily death tolls are at around 40 per day. The figure is just a fraction of a peak of above 1,800 deaths in January.
Over 68 percent of Britain’s adult population have had the two doses, which provides more protection. A total of nearly 87 percent of all Brits have had one vaccination dose. As such, Britain outstrips its European peers in vaccinating its population.
For England, the British government headed by Prime Minister Johnson set COVID-19 restrictions. The devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland however, can make their own policy.
Aim of “Freedom Day”
From being one of the advanced economies in the world, Britain suffered one major hit from the pandemic. Therefore, the aim of “Freedom Day” is to speed up its ailing economy.
Possible boomerang effect
However, “Freedom Day” could backfire with serious consequences. The soaring number of infections running into the thousands, may force hundreds of thousands of workers to self-isolate. It is not just infected people who must isolate, but also those who have come in close contact with them.
Such a scenario will cause severe staff shortages, and cripple essential services such as public transportation. Businesses will be forced to close yet again, and Britain may possibly have yet another lockdown.
19th July 2021 23:00
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