British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to give a televised press conference this afternoon during which he will explain the next plan to lift the latest lockdown of British citizens in response to the pandemic. He will brief Parliament on the plan first. He’s additionally believed to be announcing the reopening of his nation’s schools, set to happen in the next couple of weeks. But unless he’s holding something up his sleeve, the Brits, who have currently been under lockdown orders since an early January spike in infections, may not have much more of an idea as to when they will be free to leave their homes than they do now. (CNBC)
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce Monday how and when lockdown restrictions will start to be lifted in England.
Government ministers are expected to discuss details of the “roadmap” for cautiously easing lockdown Monday morning. The prime minister will then outline the proposals to parliament later this afternoon, before giving a televised press conference at 7 p.m. London time.
Johnson is expected to set out the latest data on infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as early data showing the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines.
He is also expected to confirm that schools in England will reopen on March 8, and reveal more details on other restrictions set to be lifted.
If all goes as expected, BoJo will be providing the latest update on the numbers of new cases and COVID hospitalizations today, along with the total deaths recorded. (Let’s hope he does a better job of that than Andrew Cuomo.) But as I mentioned above, what may be missing is an actual target date. Further, the lockdown may not be lifting for everyone at the same time.
Johnson is sticking to the same line he’s used in the past, saying that these decisions will be driven by “data, not dates.” That’s apparently the British version of “follow the science.” His office released a preliminary statement saying that the end of the lockdown “will seek to balance health, economic and social factors with the very latest epidemiological data and advice.”
Describing the plan as a “roadmap” rather than some specific target, Johnson is talking about something that sounds suspiciously like the phased plan put in place by California and several other states. It will involve a series of tests that each region must pass. These tests won’t be limited to just infection rates and mortality. They will be monitoring how many people have been vaccinated and how effective the vaccine has been in preventing new infections. They will also consider how many ICU hospital beds are available in each region and if there are enough to handle a new surge if one crops up after reopening.
Johnson has been under a lot of pressure from his own Conservative Party to reopen the economy and get people back to work. (Is any of this sounding familiar?) BoJo was facing a serious rebellion from the public as well as the Tory Party in Parliament in December when people grew outraged toward the end of the country’s second lockdown. That led him to lift those restrictions in December, only to be forced to shut the country down again barely a month later.
The Prime Minister is also facing huge pressure to reopen the schools, much like politicians in America are. He’s anticipated to set a target date of March 8 to do that during his remarks tonight. But that’s only a “target” at this point. If he’s planning on applying the same tests for each school district as he’ll be using for opening businesses back up, parents may still not have any idea when the kids will be returning to class. The initial statement from Johnson’s office took pains to make sure people knew he had heard their complaints.
“Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritizing ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.”
I’m not sure how much this is going to satisfy the public or Johnson’s own party. People are growing impatient, to say the least. The good news is that, much like many other countries, Great Britain has seen a serious decline in new cases over the past week, dropping down 16.2% from the prior week. The weekly death toll fell by 27.4% and hospitalizations are similarly dropping. When people see those numbers, they’re going to be wondering what’s taking so long in terms of turning the economy back on.