UK Second Lockdown to End as Scheduled

UK Second Lockdown to End as Scheduled

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said a national lockdown would end after December 2, with the UK switching to a regional three-tier system. He noted that new vaccines meant “the scientific cavalry” was on the way.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that England's current tough coronavirus restrictions would not be extended after December 2. 

England’s lockdown will be replaced with regional measures that involve three tiers of restrictions based on the scale of the outbreak in different areas.

The loosening of rules only applies to England, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own restrictions. 

“The breakthroughs in treatment, in testing vaccines mean that the scientific cavalry is now in sight,” the prime minister said.

“We know in our hearts that next year we will succeed. By the spring these advances should reduce the need for the restrictions we've endured in 2020,” he added. 

“We have turned a corner and the escape route is in sight,” Johnson emphasized.

Tougher Three-tier Regional Restriction 

There are signs that the restrictions have helped reduce the rate of new infections thus under the new easing of restrictions, people will be allowed to leave their homes for any purpose, with public religious ceremonies and certain leisure activities continuing once again. 

Johnson said shops, gyms, personal care businesses and leisure facilities will be allowed to reopen, and collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume under lower restriction tiers. 

In Tier 1, people will be told to limit travel and work from home where possible. In Tier 2, bars and restaurants can only serve alcohol alongside a substantial meal.

Indoor and outdoor sports venues in Tiers 1 and 2 can allow in “limited numbers” of spectators, while “business events” will also be able to resume.

In Tier 3, indoor hospitality businesses will close except for takeaway, and all indoor entertainment venues will shut.

The UK has yet to release up-to-date data to show which regions would be required to impose which restriction tiers. However, the government says most of the country is likely to remain in the two highest levels. 

In the top tier, pubs and restaurants will still be closed except for takeout and delivery, while households will be barred from mixing indoors. 

But Johnson said a “time-limited” exception for families to gather for Christmas would be granted, though he warned that “Christmas cannot be normal and there's a long road to spring.” 

“We all want some kind of Christmas, we need it,” he said. “What we don't want is to throw caution to the wind and allow the virus to flare up again,” Johnson added. “Families will need to make a careful judgement about the risk of visiting older relatives.” 

No Compulsory Vaccination  

Despite the support for vaccination as a solution to the crisis, Johnson said that the government will not force people to have vaccinations against COVID-19. 

“We think it (vaccination) is a good idea, and you know I totally reject the propaganda of the anti-vaxxers, they are wrong,” he said. “Everybody should get a vaccine as soon as it is available.”

If a vaccine is approved by regulators, the U.K. hopes to start using it, and others, widely in the new year. Johnson said he was “really assured” that things will look very different by Easter in April.

However, the UK prime minister said there will be “no compulsory vaccination.”

Reduced Quarantine 

People arriving in England from abroad will be soon able to reduce their quarantine by more than half if they pay for a Covid test after five days, the transport secretary has announced.

Under the new travel rules, passengers who arrive from a foreign destination not on the government's travel corridors list will still need to enter self-isolation. However, if they pay for a test after five days and it comes back negative, they will no longer need to self-isolate.

Results will normally be issued in 24 to 48 hours. This means people could be released from quarantine six days after arrival.

The rules will come into force from 15 December and the tests from private firms will cost between £65 and £120.

Grant Shapps said the scheme would “bolster international travel while keeping the public safe”.

The travel industry welcomed the policy but described it as “long overdue”.

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