The United Kingdom has decided that they are ready to relax their COVID-related restrictions, just in time for the holidays. They have been using a tiered system as of late and now they will be enacting a new one for the holidays. Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans on releasing additional details to the House of Commons this week.
The plan is a simple one, though. Johnson is looking to ease certain restrictions so that people are able to enjoy the holidays. The UK’s Sun-Times has been covering the story. According to these reports, the government’s scientific advisers believe that retail shopping is a low-risk activity. As long as the risks are managed well, UK shoppers should be able to remain safe.
Thomas House, a reader in mathematics at the University of Manchester who sits on Sage’s SPI-M modeling subgroup, says: “If you think about what the worst kind of activity would be, it’s an enormous drunk New Year’s Eve party with lots of people in a confined space and high-risk individuals present.
“Compared to that, shopping with good ventilation, where you can manage flows of people, where there’s contactless payment, where people who have symptoms have enough flexibility to think, ‘I’ve got a cough, so I won’t go this week’ — it does seem to be quite a safe activity. We haven’t seen huge clusters associated with shops.”
Gyms are also expected to be reopened. The restaurant and pub closure requirements are going to be eased back an hour, too. The biggest change of all is taking place within the tiered system that the UK has put into place. Ministers are expected to say that the previous system was not strict enough but there are other theories circulating.
Some believe that the UK will emulate the Scottish on this one. If so, this would place their major metropolitan areas on lockdown. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are all looking into a semi bubble system to get through the next few weeks.
“Work is continuing to finalise the arrangements, including relating to travel. The UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive hope to conclude this work this week, subject to agreement by each administration,” says The Scotsman.
The BBC also says that there is a widespread belief that the British citizens will simply refuse to adhere to lockdown orders if they remain in place during the holidays. People are craving normalcy after a long, hard year. That’s understandable enough, isn’t it? The average person is only going to remain on lockdown for so long before they decide to resume their normal activities.
The BBC has also spoken with a local professor. Prof Calum Semple, who teaches at the University of Liverpool, says that he is hoping that the rules will be relaxed over the holidays. On the other hand, he had some important warnings to issue. If the new tiered system works, that is great. He did warn that “there will be a price”, including tighter restrictions in the future.
When he spoke with Sophy Ridge of Sky News, he said that there was “a lot to be optimistic about”. Semple went on to say that he expected mass vaccination of the general population to happen by the time next summer rolls around. This would provide populations with a “broad immunity” and allow everyone to make a return to normalcy. That’s all anyone can ask at this point.
The world is going to be watching this experiment closely. As the United States is looking to limit the movement of citizens during the holiday season, other countries are actively lifting restrictions. 2020: it’s been one heck of a year. At this point, we are just glad that it is almost over. We all deserve a break of some kind. Hopefully, we won’t be having these conversations when it comes time to get together for the holidays in 2021.