British Prime Minister Boris Johnson He is obliged to isolate himself and his Minister of Health tested positive for Covid-19, on the eve of the lifting of the restrictions linked to the pandemic on Monday in England, a day called “Freedom Day” that comes amid concern about the spike in infections by the Delta variant. Johnson and Finance Minister Rishi Sunak “were contacted by the public health service because they were in contact with someone who tested positive for covid,” the British prime minister’s office said on Sunday.
Both had met in the week with the Minister of Health Sajid Javid, who announced on Saturday that he had tested positive of coronavirus. A Downing Street spokesman initially indicated that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak would escape complete isolation because they “participate in a daily testing pilot program” that “allows them to continue working in Downing Street.” However, in the face of the fury that this provoked and the opposition’s denunciation that the government “is above the law”, Downing Street finally announced two hours later that both will fulfill their period of isolation.
Boris Johnson “will continue to conduct meetings with ministers from afar” from the country residence of British heads of government at Checkers, in north-west London.
The United Kingdom is one of the countries in Europe most affected by covid-19, with more than 128,000 dead, and infections have been increasing for weeks, exceeding 54,000 daily cases on Saturday. Despite these figures, Johnson announced the almost total lifting as of Monday of the restrictions that remained in force in England, including the obligation to use a mask or social distancing, praising instead the “individual responsibility” of each.
The UK has seen its economy hit hard by successive lockdowns, with a fall of almost 10% of GDP in 2020. And the state has spent more than 400,000 million pounds (554,000 million dollars, 468,000 million euros) to cushion the coup, at the cost of a record public deficit.
Faced with increasing pressure from part of its Conservative Party, the government decided to reopen it completely, relying on its successful vaccination campaign: two thirds of the 55 million adults have already received two doses and the vaccines have been shown to be effective against the bulk of hospitalizations and deaths. Thus, in the last stage of a long and slow lack of refinement that began in March, the telework slogan will be lifted, nightlife venues will be able to reopen, and theaters and stadiums will receive full capacity.
Masks in closed places and social distancing will also cease to be mandatory, decisions criticized by leading experts.
The day that many waited impatiently, baptized by the press as “freedom day”, initially scheduled for June 21 but postponed to advance vaccination, is accompanied by a message of moderation.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism