A Yeoman Warder in the Tower Of London is leading one of the first Yeoman Warder tours of the Tower in 16 months after the last legal coronavirus restrictions in England were lifted on Monday 19th July.
Victoria Jones – PA Pictures | PA pictures | Getty Images
Criticism of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his administration for the decision to continue lifting Covid-19 restrictions in England this week is mounting, with the world now watching which direction the country’s health crisis goes next.
As of Monday, there will be no more restrictions on indoor gatherings, which means nightclubs can reopen and bars and pubs will no longer have to offer table service.
In addition, the 1-meter social distancing rule has been lifted and face masks have largely become voluntary, although some airlines and transport companies have announced that they will maintain the mask requirement.
However, fanfare around a day previously touted as “Freedom Day” has been dampened by the government as it occurs amid a surge in Covid infections caused by the Delta variant. The government has called for caution and responsibility on the part of the people with regard to their regained freedoms.
The lifting of restrictions had already been postponed from June 21st to allow more vaccinations amid the surge in infections.
The number of cases remains high across the UK, with 316,691 cases reported in the last seven days, an increase of around 43% over the previous seven-day period. Hospital admissions are low but insidiously higher, with 4,313 people hospitalized in the past seven days, government data shows. 283 people have died in the past seven days.
The lifting of the restrictions has criticized many medical experts and opposition politicians, fearing that hospital admissions and deaths, although currently relatively low, could rise rapidly if cases continue to rise.
“Big Bang” game of chance?
Ed Davey, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats in the UK, criticized the move, calling it a “gamble” by the Conservative government.
“We want our freedoms back, of course we want them all back, but we have to be sensible. I am particularly concerned about clinically vulnerable people. Many of these clinically vulnerable people will have no freedom at all … because they will not feel safe on public transport, ”he said.
“So that’s the compensation for people’s freedom to go to nightclubs, as much as everyone wants to have fun, you take away other people’s freedom. I’m just afraid of this big bang, this game of chance that Boris Johnson takes,” doesn’t get that balance correct.”
David Miles, a professor of financial economics at Imperial College and a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, told CNBC that the situation could now go either way.
“It all now depends on how the infection develops across the country. You can think of different scenarios. In an optimistic case, the infection rates, which were very high, will level off and then start falling again when we move.” until the fourth quarter the infections go down sharply … confidence increases and we get [a] very strong economic recovery. “
“That is certainly possible, and if it works like that, then folks will say the government was absolutely right, “he said.
But at the other end of the spectrum, Miles noted, “The number of people infected keeps climbing to … 100,000 a day and hospital admissions are starting to go up, they’re already going up, and the death rate is starting to go up too. and because of that people stay very nervous … and at the end of the year we are in a very difficult situation again and an economic recovery is going to the opposite. “
Miles said he didn’t know which scenario was more likely. “I think it is extremely difficult for the government to see the right strategy here,” he said.
An exciting day for others
While experts have concerns about the lifting of restrictions, for many people, loosening the rules is a sigh of relief after months of bans, job insecurity and, in many cases, loneliness. Proponents of lifting the restrictions point out that staying in lockdown has many harmful consequences, from economic and livelihood effects to mental health.
Lifting restrictions in summer could also ease the burden on the National Health Service when winter comes, the government hopes. Johnson has repeated the “if not now then when” mantra many times lately in relation to the lifting of restrictions, urging the public to “learn to live with the virus.”
Companies that have been severely affected by lockdowns will surely welcome the removal of the restrictions in the hopes of increasing customer footfall.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a member of the opposition Labor Party and often a vocal critic of the government’s actions during the pandemic, said Monday was an “exciting” day for London’s businesses.
“Today is exciting because many of the restrictions that we have struggled with in the last 16 months are being relaxed and this is very important, not least because many of our companies – especially in hospitality, culture, retail and in the night pub – that rely on the cadence, really struggled. “
“But what we say to Londoners and those who come to London is ‘please be careful’. For example, if you can’t keep your social distance indoors, consider wearing a face mask and following normal rules like good hygiene. “
Khan noted that more than 9.9 million vaccine doses were given in London and more than three-quarters of all over 40s were double-vaccinated, with younger people now the main target for immunization.
In the UK, 87.9% of adults received a first dose of a vaccine and 68.3% received both doses. Taking both doses of a vaccine greatly reduces the risk of infection and hospitalization from the coronavirus.