With the gradual lifting of all restrictive measures, Britons are preparing to end the Covid pandemic. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was time to treat the coronavirus like the flu. In a statement to the House of Commons, the prime minister said the latest restrictive measures could be lifted from March 23, but if the House of Commons wished they could be lifted earlier.
There has been speculation for days about ending the most far-reaching measures still in place. This concerns, for example, the use of vaccine passports in nightclubs and concerts. But by declaring an end to all restrictions, the British are taking a step forward.
This announcement is due in part to Johnson’s own predicament. His position is under pressure because the prime minister and his immediate staff have failed to comply with the rules he imposed in the past. Repealing the rules is particularly popular with critical liberal conservative MPs.
But Johnson is essentially referring to a successful vaccine campaign. Although the target set in early December to provide all UK adults with a booster vaccine by the end of that year has not been met, it does mean that the vaccine campaign has received significant support. Nearly two-thirds of all adults, and the vast majority of vulnerable groups, now have a booster vaccine.
The announcement to end restrictions also underscores the UK government’s wisdom not to announce more restrictive measures over the Christmas period. With the rapid increase in the number of omicron infections, pressure in this regard was high, including from labor opposition. Hospitals were under a lot of pressure at the beginning of this month, but that is actually the case every winter with a weak NHS.
It is not entirely clear if the government’s scientific advisors are now participating in the announced measures. Johnson always calls out “follow the science,” but he has often ignored this advice in the past. The opposition Labor Party supports Johnson’s measures on the condition that they match unpublished scientific advice.
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