The UK government announced on Monday (5/4) that it will move on to the next stage of easing the lockdown measures, which has been in place in the country since the beginning of the year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that this decision was made on the basis of data showing that the effort made by the British people “is paying off”.
The second stage of the opening plan will take effect on April 12. It provides:
– Reopening of non-essential stores and close contact services, such as hairdressers and barbers;
– Restaurants and pubs can start serving customers outdoors, without the need for a substantial meal to be served along with alcoholic beverages and without a curfew. People will have to sit and eat and drink;
– Academies and spas can reopen, as well as zoos, theme parks, libraries and community centers;
– Members of the same family can take a holiday in England in independent accommodation;
– Weddings with the presence of up to 15 people are allowed;
– The number of visitors to permitted nursing homes will increase to two per resident;
– All children will be able to participate in any children’s activity indoors, including sports;
– Meetings of groups of parents and children of up to 15 people (not counting children under 5 years old) indoors.
People should continue to work from home if they can and minimize travel. Leisure travel abroad is not yet allowed.
Outdoor meetings should still be limited to six people or two families and you should not socialize indoors with anyone with whom you do not live or are not part of your support group.
Boris Johnson asked the population to get vaccinated and run tests. “A third of people have no symptoms,” recalled the British prime minister.
He also explained that the government is releasing today its “first assessments” on the return of events and the potential of “covid status certificates” to confirm whether someone has immunity to the virus.
According to the UK government chief physician Chris Whitty, some 31.6 million of the 66.8 million inhabitants have already received the first dose of the covid-19 vaccine, and 5.4 million have also taken the second dose.
Whitty said the vaccine’s application rates have been “incredible” and that the UK is moving in the right direction.
The success of the immunization program was one of the British government’s four criteria for progressing from the phase out of the lockdown, which began on March 29, with the first relaxation of measures.
The second criterion is evidence that vaccines are effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths.
Whitty explained that, in the UK, there was a drop in symptomatic cases of around 60% and 80% in hospitalizations among those who were immunized compared to those who have not yet had the vaccine.
The doctor stressed that this shows that vaccines are highly effective, but not completely effective and that, therefore, people must ensure that they receive the second dose.
“This will reinforce and extend the duration of that protection,” he said.
The third criterion used by the government was infection rates. At current levels, they do not pose a risk of an increase in hospitalizations that could put the health system under unsustainable pressure.
According to Whitty, the number of people hospitalized with covid-19 has been steadily falling, as has the number of deaths.
The moving average of deaths, for the seven immediately preceding days, is now around 47 per day, well below the peak of 1,300 earlier this year.
Finally, the British government estimates that the new variants of the coronavirus do not yet have characteristics that increase the risks associated with the pandemic.
Government studies ‘covid certificate’
The British government has also updated its position on “covid status certificates”.
The government considers that these certificates may have an important role to play nationally and internationally, as a temporary measure.
But he stressed that not everyone can be vaccinated (these and other cases could receive exemptions) and that certificates should be able to be obtained through examinations.
The British government has also argued that there are some environments, such as essential public services, public transport and stores of essential products, where the certificate should never be required in order to guarantee access for all.
Doing so can be useful in places like theaters, nightclubs and mass events, to help manage risk.
The government said it will start testing in some of these environments, but explained that it is still talking to different sectors of the economy and that certification will not be part of the third stage of the plan.
From this next stage, most restrictions on meetings in public places should be lifted.
Boris Johnson also said he hoped he could also authorize the return of international travel in the third stage, which is scheduled for May 17.
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