Aazam Ameen – themorning.lk
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK) Boris Johnson is to declare an end to most lockdown restrictions today (05), with social distancing rules, the work from home order, and mask mandates to be ditched from July 19 as he will argue that the UK must learn to live with coronavirus, similar to the flu, thedailymail.co.uk reports.
The PM is expected to use a press conference this afternoon to confirm a bonfire of virus rules and restrictions from the so-called Freedom Day later this month, in which he will say that individuals will again be able to judge the risks of coronavirus for themselves.
The one-metre plus decree and the work from home order will be dropped, with mask wearing no longer mandatory – while pubs and other venues will not have to collect customer details and will again be able to serve drinks at the bar in a boon for the economy.
Speaking before his announcement, the PM said people would have to ‘exercise judgment’ to protect themselves from coronavirus, in a sign the British Government will shift from legally enforced restrictions to affording people personal choice.
‘Thanks to the successful rollout of our vaccination programme, we are progressing cautiously through our road map,’ Mr Johnson said. ‘Today we will set out how we can restore people’s freedoms when we reach Step 4.
‘But I must stress that the pandemic is not over and that cases will continue to rise over the coming weeks. As we begin to learn to live with this virus, we must all continue to carefully manage the risks from Covid and exercise judgment when going about our lives.’
Officials said the Prime Minister is due to address the nation while Health Secretary Sajid Javid will take responsibility for announcing the Government’s plans to Parliament. As well as publishing the taskforce reviews, an update will also be provided on what is next for care home visits, No10 said.
It follows stern rebukes from Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle in recent weeks for ministers deciding to make statements to the press before MPs.
However, the Government said it will not be known until July 12 – seven days before the target date for easing restrictions – whether its four tests for unlocking have been met, given the need to consult the latest data.
Labour said the Government must declare how many Covid-related deaths it is willing to accept in the face of rising cases of the Indian strain – also know as the Delta variant – if restrictions are abolished.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘We are all desperate to move on from restrictions but with infections continuing to rise steeply thanks to the Delta variant, Boris Johnson needs to outline the measures he will introduce such as ventilation support for building and sick pay for isolation to push cases down.
‘Letting cases rise with no action means further pressure on the NHS, more sickness, disruption to education and risks a new variant emerging with a selection advantage. So far ‘learning to live with the virus’ had been no more than a ministerial slogan.
‘Now we know this is the Government’s strategy, when Sajid Javid addresses the Commons he must explain what level of mortality and cases of long Covid he considers acceptable. And what support will be in place for the most deprived areas where cases are highest and vaccination rates lowest. These are important questions ministers now must answer.’
The Cabinet’s Covid committee will meet today to finalise the plans for the final step of the roadmap out of lockdown to give businesses and the public time to prepare.