Covid-19: UK set to further relax curbs


London - The move follows return to ‘sense of normality’.

By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Sun 12 Sep 2021, 3:23 PM

Last updated: Sun 12 Sep 2021, 3:39 PM

Double-jabbed Britons not needing to have tests after arriving from countries on the amber and green lists and providing booster doses along with flu vaccines as winter looms, are some of the measures likely to be announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson next week.

“Thanks to the efforts of the public, the National Health Service and our phenomenal vaccination programme, we reached Step 4 in our Roadmap and life has returned to a sense of normality”, he said on Sunday.

“These extraordinary times required necessary but intrusive measures. But I’m determined to get rid of any powers we no longer need because of our vaccine defences. I will set out the next phase in our Covid response shortly”, he added.

There is so much pressure from the tourism and travel industry to relax testing and other norms for Britons arriving from holidays and other visits abroad, particularly to countries in the amber and green lists. According to some reports, the two lists may also be abolished.

Officials said vaccines will continue to be the United Kingdom's (UK) first line of defence over the autumn and winter months supported by new treatments, testing, and a variant surveillance system.

As of September 9, nearly 90 per cent of the UK population aged over 16 years has received a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and over 80 per cent have received both doses.

The latest data shows that Covid vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant, the dominant strain in the UK.

Analysis shows the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96 per cent effective and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92 per cent effective against hospitalisation after two doses.

The winter months will bring more health challenges, when Covid-19 is expected to circulate alongside flu and other respiratory viruses, while the threat of a new variant remains.

A decision on the booster vaccines is also expected next week from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation.

The government has confirmed that those who are immunocompromised will be offered a third primary dose.

This is separate from the booster programme.

PM Johnson is also expected to repeal powers in England that are no longer necessary from the Coronavirus Act, as part of the government’s plan for managing Covid-19 over autumn and winter, including powers to close-down sectors of the economy, such as business premises, or apply restrictions to events and gatherings; powers that disrupt education, enabling temporary closure or restricting access to schools, colleges, and childcare; powers that extend time limits for urgent warrants; and powers to detain infectious people.

But vital powers from the Act will be retained that are critical to protect and support the public, including legal requirements for someone to be isolated if they test Covid-19 positive, to protect the most vulnerable from infection and to control the spread of variants.

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