The U.K.’s Ambitious Plan To (Hopefully) End Lockdown

Much like a brand-new iPhone or the latest Taylor Swift album, since its announcement the COVID-19 vaccine has been highly coveted and sought after. Unfortunately, unless you are an at-risk individual or someone over the age of 50, it’s unlikely most regular people who choose to do so will be getting vaccinated until much later on in 2021. However, it seems Britain is on the fast track to turning this all around; on Feb. 22 of this year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans for lockdown to finally end. 

The first step to re-opening the country is to allow schools to be in-person once more beginning on March 8. This plan was met with some caution from others due to the new and extremely contagious COVID variant which cropped up in England for the first time at the start of this year, which ultimately led to the U.K.’s third national lockdown. This hesitation is not without substance—in the first week of January of this year, the U.K. saw a record number of 60,000 COVID cases in just one day, a shocking number for those countries outside of the United States.  nhs protest boris Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona from Unsplash This all comes with the hope that people will remain careful and socially distanced until the vaccine can be rolled out to the whole of the population. To have everything—gyms, pubs, schools etc.—be fully open for business by June is the tentative plan from Johnson as of late. To have everything return to “normal” by June does not seem so far-fetched when taking a look at the data from the U.K. Ahead of the game in contrast to practically every single other European country, as of late January Britain has been able to vaccinate nearly 8 million people (which is approximately 12 percent of their entire population).

Some fellow politicians by his side within Johnson’s Conservative Party are being increasingly ambitious, no doubt spurred on by the country’s success thus far. The end of April is being looked at to potentially lift lockdown restrictions because this is when the NHS (National Healthcare Service) plans to have supplied the vaccine to those most vulnerable. 

 

end is in sight Photo by Kelly Sikkema from Unsplash

The timeline has been laid out for March, April, May and June. In late March, larger groups will be allowed to socialize together outside, and a majority of outdoor sports (although most likely not professional teams for now) will finally be permitted. By “no earlier than April 12, nonessential… shops will open,” (The New York Times), which includes clothing stores, hairdressers, gyms, museums, libraries and even pubs along with restaurants. A month after this, slightly larger, albeit still small and therefore easier to control, groups of people will be allowed to come together in public indoor spaces. June 21 is the looming day for normalcy. 

While foreign travel in and out of the U.K. could begin to ease up in terms of who is allowed to come and leave, this is probably the area where Johnson and the rest of the government remain most hesitant. While they can hopefully count on their own people to respect and follow the new guidelines to return to “normal life,” travelers from other countries cannot fully be trusted to not take advantage of the exciting news. 

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