Prime Minister delays lifting of final lockdown restrictions by 4 weeks
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed England’s final lifting of lockdown restrictions by a further four weeks amid concerns of the rising number of Delta variant COVID-19 cases in the country.
On Monday, Johnson said that most remaining coronavirus-related restrictions will remain in place past the planned 21 June unlocking. Originally, 21 June was set to see all the remaining restrictions be lifted as “Freedom Day” — including the reopening of nightclubs, lifting of capacity limits for sports, pubs, cinemas, weddings and more. That date has now been pushed back to 19 July
The government is pushing up the date by which it plans to offer all over-18s a first COVID-19 vaccine, as well as a second dose for over-40s. As part of the announcement, the Prime Minister detailed that while most restrictions will remain in place, weddings and wakes will be able to go ahead with more than 30 people provided social distancing is followed.
Johnson had originally laid out the 21 June date during his February roadmap out of lockdown plan. As part of that plan, England’s lockdown restrictions have gradually been lifting. To date, all of the deadlines have seen restrictions lift on schedule with this exception of 21 June’s final lifting of restrictions.
Monday’s announcement in the delay of the lifting of final restrictions shouldn’t have much of an effect on the return to travel. Since 17 May, England has allowed Brits to travel abroad for leisure purposes for the first time since the country went into its third lockdown on 5 January.
Since 17 May’s return to travel, the U.K. has implemented a traffic light system to categorise countries based on their risk level for COVID-19. At this time, just 11 countries and territories are on the highly desired green list, which don’t require quarantine on return to the U.K.
The majority of the world’s countries — 167 in total — remain on the amber list, which requires a 10-day quarantine on arrival in the U.K. Additionally, a pre-departure COVID-19 test is required prior to travel, and a pre-booking of a COVID-19 day two and day eight testing package is required. Amber arrivals to England can shorten their quarantine period with England’s Test to Release scheme, which requires the purchase of an additional PCR test to take after five full days of quarantine.
Finally, arrivals from the highest-risk red countries require the strictest measures on return to the U.K. Only U.K. nationals and residents from red list countries are permitted to enter, and arrivals must pre-book and undergo a 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel. Prices for hotel quarantine start at £1,750 for a single adult.
Many scientists have called for the delay that the Prime Minister laid out on Monday as a result of rising COVID-19 infections around the country, largely tied to the Delta variant.
The lifting of lockdown restrictions are expected to be announced for the devolved nations throughout the rest of June.
Featured photo by WPA Pool/Getty Images.
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