Will the UK reopen? Boris Johnson faces a tough call as COVID cases soar

But doctors, scientists and the doubters in parliament are all asking the question: will doing so push up Covid cases to intolerable levels that will swamp the NHS again? And out there in the world of business and leisure, will there be enough people available to work? While businesses are desperate for normality, many cannot find sufficient staff, either because they are ill or self-isolating or because, in the case of many EU workers, they have left the country since Brexit.

Covid is again causing nationwide disruption to hospitals, restaurants, warehouses, airports, caravan parks and laundry services. On Friday, the UK recorded another 35,707 new Covid-19 infections, the highest number of daily cases since 22 January. On Saturday the government’s coronavirus dashboard also recorded a further 34 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the total so far to 128,399, showing the link with deaths is by no means entirely severed. But for the PM, the politics – the need to avoid another monumental U-turn – look set to prevail.

From the 19th of this month, all English premises currently closed, including nightclubs, will be able to reopen with no limits on numbers. Social distancing will be no more, face masks will no longer be mandatory and fines for not wearing them will go. The guidance to work from home where possible will end. Personal responsibility and judgment will replace government rules.