British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (57) wants to announce the end of most corona measures today. On July 19, all restrictions are scheduled to fall: mask requirement, home office and social distancing. Despite the dangerously increasing number of delta cases.
This is reported by the “Daily Mail” among others. The newspaper takes up Johnson’s main argument with which the prime minister conjures the end of the corona pandemic: You have to learn to live with the corona virus, as we did with the flu.
According to the “Daily Mail”, the prime minister will use a press conference this afternoon to explain that it is no longer the state, but each individual citizen who can – and must – assess the risks of a corona infection for themselves.
Again Europe’s problem child
“Careful, but irrevocable” – that is the motto of the British prime minister for the way out of the pandemic.
For a long time, Johnson’s slogan sounded like a model of success. Over the months, the number of corona cases in the United Kingdom fell rapidly, but there was still a lot of time between the individual easing steps.
The people had a perspective and largely went with them. For weeks the incidence was around 20 and the British thought they’d finally made it after a long, hard winter.
But then Delta came! The highly contagious variant, most likely brought into the country by travelers returning from India, caused the number of cases to skyrocket within a very short time. For months, the British seven-day incidence was far below the German one, and now there are worlds between them.
Dangerous front runner: In Great Britain it reached 214 – and thus one of the highest levels in Europe.
No return: time to pull the emergency brake again? This rather obvious idea seems to be further away than ever in the government district of London.
Instead, 60,000 fans are allowed to go to Wembley Stadium for the semi-finals and the final of the European Football Championship without any significant gap, and further easing is planned – in other words, more oil for the blazing fire, as critics say.
This is how the British end Corona
Wearing a mask in the train or in the supermarket will soon become a “personal decision”, as a minister said on Sunday.
The British are ringing in the good old days: From July 19 – according to the current plan – the English can again sit in the packed theater, celebrate huge parties and even dance the night away in the full club.
Critics are alarmed: “This is a terrible plan,” tweeted Christina Pagel from University College London, who is also on a government advisory body.
And further: “It looks like we are the only country that throws everything against the wall of vaccines and hopes that it will withstand,” said the expert in another tweet.
Will the UK’s “Wall of Vaccines” hold up?
It should be noted that the “wall of vaccines” is much more stable among the British than in many other countries. Because: A good 63 percent of British adults are already fully vaccinated, around 86 at least have the first dose behind them.
Nevertheless, there are enough people left for whom Delta represents a danger – especially since really effective protection against the variant should only exist after the complete vaccination.
But: It should be borne in mind that the number of hospital admissions and deaths has not yet increased to the same extent with positive cases as in previous corona waves. But last week, the hospitals in England were faced with as many corona cases as they had not for a long time.
The government’s calculation is nevertheless: Younger people and children end up in hospital less often with Covid-19 and also die less often from it. The fact that they sometimes also have to struggle with long-term consequences and that high numbers of infections leave room for new, even more dangerous mutations of the virus is ignored.
Big doubts about the strategy: Even doctor and public health expert Azeem Majeed would prefer not to loosen this up any further. “I would wait a few more weeks,” said Majeed.
Then the vaccination campaign has progressed even further and one can see even more clearly how many severe courses can really be prevented. Especially with measures such as spacing or masks, it actually makes sense to keep them indoors.
Because: “Wearing a mask doesn’t hurt anyone. We should keep doing that until autumn, ”says Majeed.
Merkel: “I am skeptical”
The fact that Johnson now insists on sticking to the July date after a short-term postponement of his “Freedom Day”, which was initially planned for June 21, has a lot to do with expectation management.
He has been emphasizing for months that the relaxation of “dates, not dates” should be made. At the same time, by naming possible dates, he stirs up so much hope in his people that it is difficult to row back.
A completely different approach: It is a completely different rhetoric than in Germany, for example, where the delta variant has been anticipating increasing numbers for weeks and is not ruling out a tightening of the restrictions.
Even if everyone may hope for it, there is no talk of a “one-way street towards freedom”, as Boris Johnson never tires of calling out. This makes it easy for lobby associations to rail against politics in the face of any hesitation and to threaten impatient backbenchers with disloyalty.
“I think it is a mistake to say that this is a one-way street,” says expert Majeed. Nobody could foresee which variants or developments would come up and whether restrictions would be necessary again.
On her farewell tour in England on Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel left no doubt that she is also not a big fan of Boris Johnson’s game of risk:
“The British government will make its decisions,” she said during her visit to his country estate in Checkers. “But I am worried and skeptical whether that is a good thing and not a little bit.”