British PM Johnson to plot path out of lockdown on Monday

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce plans on Monday to reopen England's schools and allow people to see family and friends, part of a phased exit from COVID-19 lockdown underpinned by one of the world's fastest vaccine roll-outs. With more than 120,000 fatalities, Britain has suffered the world's fifth-highest official death toll from the pandemic and its $3 trillion economy its biggest crash in over 300 years.

Reuters | Updated: 22-02-2021 20:17 IST | Created: 22-02-2021 20:12 IST
British PM Johnson to plot path out of lockdown on Monday
New cases across the United Kingdom hovered around 11,000 a day last week, compared with a high of over 80,000 in late December. Image Credit: ANI

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce plans on Monday to reopen England's schools and allow people to see family and friends, part of a phased exit from COVID-19 lockdown underpinned by one of the world's fastest vaccine roll-outs.

With more than 120,000 fatalities, Britain has suffered the world's fifth-highest official death toll from the pandemic and its $3 trillion economy its biggest crash in over 300 years. But a fast start to the vaccine roll-out plus a sharp fall in infections means Johnson can now set out a cautious easing of England's tough national lockdown, which started on Jan. 5.

New cases across the United Kingdom hovered around 11,000 a day last week, compared with a high of over 80,000 in late December. "Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far," Johnson said on Twitter.

"Our priority has always been getting children back into school ... We'll also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely," he said, ahead of his full announcement in parliament due at 1530 GMT. As the plan unfolds, lawmakers will have a chance to vote on specific steps. Authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which are responsible for their own public health, will also ease restrictions over the coming months.

Nadhim Zahawi, the minister in charge of the vaccine roll-out, said English schools would reopen on March 8. They have been open only to vulnerable pupils and to key workers' children since Jan. 5, with others learning remotely from home. The reopening of schools is expected to help the economy, freeing up parents who have had to juggle work and homeschooling.

Zahawi also said on LBC Radio that two people from separate households would be allowed to meet outdoors from March 8, while from March 29 outdoor socialising would be permitted for groups of up to six people, or for two households together.

SPEEDY VACCINE ROLL-OUT

Johnson faces pressure from politicians in his Conservative Party to restart the economy but also from scientific advisers who fear a resurgence of the virus if he unlocks too quickly. He has appeared more cautious in recent months than earlier in the pandemic when he was widely criticised for his eagerness to reopen shops, restaurants, pubs and offices.

This time, he is expected to say that there will be a five-week pause in between each phase of the plan, to allow for the impact to be assessed before moving on to the next step. He is also expected to say that factors such as the speed and success of the inoculation programme, the state of infection rates and the impact of any new variants of the virus will be taken into account in deciding about easing restrictions.

In Scotland, the vaccination drive appears to be markedly reducing the risk of hospitalisation for COVID-19, according to preliminary study findings published on Monday. Britain moved faster than most countries to secure vaccine supplies and has been inoculating people rapidly since December, a strategy that has driven sterling and stock markets higher on hopes of an economic rebound.

The pound hit a new three-year high of $1.4050 in early London trading on Monday. Some 17.6 million Britons, over a quarter of the 67 million population, have now received the first dose, behind only Israel and the United Arab Emirates in vaccines per head of population.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

East African women traders: 'Celebrating the past, planning for the future'

COVID-19 has hit women disproportionately hard across East Africa, especially those working in the informal sector. Lessons must be learnt to prevent this from happening again....

Viral variants and vaccine nationalism pose two-pronged threat to Covid victory

... ...

Tracking Fintech during COVID-19: Harnessing power of technology

Its abundantly clear now that as fintech cements its place in the financial sector, accelerated further by the COVID-19 pandemic, it could open the sector to new possibilities by harnessing the power of technology to deliver financial ...

Tectonic turns: How technology shaped healthcare over the decades

Tracing an episodic evolution, with technology at the interface of human and his health....

Videos

Latest News

'Time to do the right thing' on climate, Greta Thunberg tells U.S. Congress

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg warned U.S. lawmakers Thursday that history will hold them accountable for climate catastrophes if they do not stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry before it is too late. Thunberg, 18, whose acti...

Manhattan subway bomber sentenced to life in prison

A Bangladeshi man convicted of setting off a pipe bomb during rush hour in New York Citys busiest subway station, Times Square, was sentenced on Thursday to life plus 30 years in prison. Akayed Ullah, 31, of Brooklyn, had claimed he wanted ...

PE major Warbug Pincus checks into Good Host Spaces; buys HDFC's 24.48 pc stake

Global private equity major Warburg Pincus on Thursday said it has become a significant shareholder in student accommodation provider Good Host Spaces by undisclosed sum.Baskin Lake Investment, an affiliate of Warburg Pincus, has picked up ...

France reports people 5,981 in intensive care units for COVID-19

France reported on Thursday that 5,981 people were in intensive care units with COVID-19, up by 22 a day earlier, the second highest total of 2021 as the country prepares to exit its third lockdown.Also Read France meets its target for 10 m...

Give Feedback