Covid-19: British PM to ease curbs from May 17
Relaxations are likely to come into effect from May 17.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday announced that several restrictions would be lifted from May 17 after mass vaccinations and other measures have led to a major reduction in the numbers of new Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospitalisations in the United Kingdom (UK).
From next Monday, indoor hospitality will be allowed to reopen, besides indoor entertainment, including cinemas, museums, and children’s play areas. Up to six people or two households will be able to meet indoors and up to 30 people outdoors.
"Your efforts have so visibly paid off," he told the nation in an address from 10 Downing Street, the PM's official residence.
All remaining outdoor entertainment can reopen, such as outdoor cinemas and performances. Some larger events will be able to take place, including conferences, theatre and concert performances, and sports events.
Guidance for close contact between friends and family will be updated, with people exercising their own personal judgement in line with the risks, he announced. The UK government intends to remove all restrictions from June 21.
The latest data shows that the government’s ‘four tests’ for easing restrictions have been met, he said, adding that infection rates in the UK are at their lowest level since September, while hospital admissions and patients in hospital continue to decrease, with levels now similar to July last year.
The four tests were: the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully; evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated; infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the state-run National Health Service (NHS), and the assessment of risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
Johnson said over 35 million (m) people had received at least one dose, and nearly 18m had received both doses.
Officials said that following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the medical authorities of the UK’s four constituents – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – agreed to lower the alert level to 3.
“Thanks to the efforts of the UK public in social distancing and the impact we are starting to see from the vaccination programme, case numbers, deaths and Covid hospital pressures have fallen consistently,” the medical officials said.
“However Covid-19 is still circulating with people catching and spreading the virus every day so we all need to continue to be vigilant. This remains a major pandemic globally. It is very important that we all continue to follow the guidance closely and everyone gets both doses of the vaccine when they are offered it,” they added.
The changes from May 17 will include overseas holiday travel to 12 countries in the ‘green list’, indoor hospitality and household mixing.
The new official guidance is also expected to include the update that it is now safe to hug friends and family.
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