CORONAVIRUS

Johnson Says UK Must Live With Virus As He Announces Easing

Jul 5, 2021, 6:52 AM
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the new Ranger Regiment to mark Armed Forces Week, at...
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the new Ranger Regiment to mark Armed Forces Week, at the Aldershot Garrison on June 24, 2021 in Aldershot, England. Armed Forces Week, which runs from June 21 to June 27, comprises of a series event to celebrate Her Majesty's Armed Forces. (Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil plans Monday to scrap mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing in England in two weeks’ time, despite surging coronavirus infections driven by the highly contagious delta variant.

Johnson said he would set out how the country would “learn to live with this virus” — a major shift in tone from a leader who has previously painted COVID-19 as an enemy to be vanquished.

Before a televised news conference on Monday afternoon, Johnson signaled that mandatory measures would be replaced by personal choice after July 19, the date dubbed “freedom day” by Britain’s populist press.

“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,” Johnson said.

That message will be welcomed by lockdown-skeptic lawmakers in Johnson’s governing Conservative Party, who say the economic and social damage of restrictions outweighs the public health benefits.

But public health officials and scientists have urged caution, saying ditching masks and social distancing altogether could be dangerous. Psychologist Stephen Reicher, a member of the government’s scientific advisory committee, said “proportionate mitigations” against the spread of the virus should stay in place.

“I think we need very clear messaging and I think in certain spaces — crowded, badly ventilated spaces — masks are crucial mitigation,” he told the BBC.

The government said Johnson will announce plans for rules on social distancing, face coverings and working from home after July 19, the government’s target date to remove remaining restrictions on business and daily life.

The British government, which enforced one of the longest lockdowns in the world, has lifted restrictions for England in a series of steps that began with reopening schools in March. The fourth and final stage was delayed last month to provide time for more people to be vaccinated amid the rapid spread of the delta variant, which was first discovered in India.

Current rules in England mean most businesses including shops, hairdressers, restaurants and bars can operate at limited capacity. Customers must provide contact details on paper or through a phone app, and face-coverings are required inside businesses and on public transit.

Crowded venues such as nightclubs can’t open at all, while many entertainment businesses say they will go broke unless caps on attendance are lifted.

The other parts of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are following their own, broadly similar, road maps out of lockdown.

Britain has recorded more than 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Western Europe. Confirmed infections have risen sharply from about 2,000 a day earlier this year to more than 20,000 a day in the past week. But the 122 coronavirus-related deaths reported were two fewer than the previous week.

Public health officials say Britain’s vaccination program has weakened the link between infections and deaths. So far, 86% of U.K. adults have received at least one vaccine dose and 63% are fully vaccinated.

Jonathan Ashworth, health spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, said even with vaccination, “letting cases rise with no action means further pressure on the (health system), more sickness, disruption to education and risks a new variant emerging with a selection advantage.”

“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,” he said.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said it made sense to ease restrictions in summer, when schools are closed, people spend more time outdoors and other respiratory infections are at a low level.

“The disease burden associated with a larger peak during the summer would likely be less than one during the winter,” Hunter said.

“There is a general consensus that COVID will never go away,” he added. “Our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be getting infected with SARS-CoV-2. But in the not too distant future SARS-CoV-2 will probably just be another cause of the common cold that we catch every few years.”

___

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at:

https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

...
Ashley Moser

Flu, COVID and RSV all trending down for the first time in months, says CDC

Major respiratory illnesses are all trending down for the first time since September, according to the CDC.
8 days ago
FILE PHOTO (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)...
Josh Ellis

Utah doctor, others charged with running COVID vaccine scheme, issuing fake records and giving fake shots

A Utah plastic surgeon, his medical corporation and three others have been charged after prosecutors say they issued fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards and injected minors with saline shots.
14 days ago
Dr. Angela Dunn, executive director of Salt Lake County Health Department, left, discusses schoolch...
Michael Houck

Salt Lake County ends its COVID-19 emergency status

After nearly three years, the Salt Lake County Health Department ended its COVID emergency status Tuesday. 
22 days ago
FILE: People line up in their cars as members of the Utah National Guard give COVID-19 swab tests a...
Eliza Pace

Gov. Cox, along with 24 other governors, call on President Biden to end Federal Public Health Emergency

Gov. Spencer Cox signed a letter with 24 other governors calling on President Joe Biden to end the federal public health emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic.
1 month ago
U.S. President Joe Biden welcomes guests to the East Room of the White House on December 14, 2022 i...
ZEKE MILLER, AP White House Correspondent

White House reveals winter COVID-19 plans, more free tests

The Biden administration is again making some free COVID-19 tests available to all U.S. households as it unveils its contingency plans for potential coronavirus surges this winter.
2 months ago
FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference, Feb. 1, 2022, in Miami. Gov. DeSa...
FREIDA FRISARO, Associated Press

DeSantis seeks grand jury investigation of COVID-19 vaccines

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking the state’s Supreme Court to convene a grand jury to investigate “any and all wrongdoing” with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Johnson Says UK Must Live With Virus As He Announces Easing