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No more compulsory masks, end of social distancing measures, reopening of nightclubs … British Prime Minister Boris Johnson detailed on Monday the lifting of the last health restrictions in England scheduled for July 19.
“We will end mandatory restrictions and allow citizens to make their own informed decisions about the virus.” The head of the British government, Boris Johnson, held a press conference on Monday, July 5, at the end of the afternoon, to detail the lifting of health measures, including the controversial one to abandon the compulsory wearing of the mask in the inside public places, despite a surge in contaminations attributed to the Delta variant. “We will end (…) the legal obligation to wear a mask,” announced the conservative leader at a press conference, also announcing the end of the obligation of social distancing.
Nightclubs will also be able to reopen and gauges will be removed. “We have to be honest with ourselves: if we cannot reopen the country in the next few weeks, when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays, one may wonder when we will be. able to do so, “said Boris Johnson. The lifting of these restrictions will be effective on July 19.
Earlier, in a statement, Boris Johnson explained that he wanted to “restore freedoms”, highlighting a “successful” vaccination campaign. He called for caution, however, stressing that the pandemic was “not over” and that the population was going to have to “learn to live with the virus” and to show “discernment”.
Initially scheduled for June 21, the lifting of the last restrictions had been postponed by one month, to July 19, due to the outbreak of the Delta variant, which is much more contagious. This variant, initially detected in India, now accounts for almost all new cases in the United Kingdom. Daily contaminations have approached 30,000 in recent days.
Country in Europe with the most people killed by the pandemic (128,000) after Russia, the United Kingdom and its 66 million inhabitants have gradually emerged from a third winter confinement, with the reopening of restaurants, non-commercial businesses. essential and cultural places. According to Downing Street, the latest data indicates that contaminations will continue to rise as restrictions are lifted, “but the link to hospitalizations and deaths is weakened” thanks to the vaccination.
A lifting of the restrictions which is controversial
Launched in early December, the campaign allowed two doses to be administered to nearly 64% of the adult population, and one dose to 86%. The government has already let go of mass gatherings to allow 60,000 fans to attend the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 football at London’s Wembley Stadium this week, a contested decision.
For several days, he had suggested that he intended to appeal widely to the judgment of the British. “I’m not a fan of wearing one if I don’t have to,” Welfare Secretary Helen Whately said of the mask on Times Radio on Monday. She stressed that the executive would favor an approach based on “individual responsibility” and “common sense”.
This strategy is sharply criticized by some academics who advise the executive. For example, Stephen Reicher, professor of social psychology at Saint Andrews University, found it “scary to have a minister of ‘health’ who wants to make all protections a matter of personal choice when the key message of the pandemic is is not a question of ‘I’ but of ‘us’. Your behavior affects my health. ” For Prof. Susan Michie, a behavior specialist at University College London, the choice to let the contaminations slip away amounts to “building new ‘variant factories’ at a very high rate”. Over the weekend, the British Medical Association called on the government to keep certain restrictions in place due to the “alarming” increase in the number of cases.
The Unite union, which represents tens of thousands of workers in public transport, demanded on Monday that the wearing of masks remain compulsory there. According to the press, the government should also vote this week on the lifting of the mandatory quarantine for fully vaccinated Britons returning from a country classified “orange”, including major European tourist destinations such as France, Italy or the Spain. In the United Kingdom, each province decides on its own timetable in the face of the health crisis. Scotland, Wales and Ireland have opted for slower lifting of restrictions.
With Reuters and AFP