British people have recently been encouraged to wear face covers in crowded indoor spaces, but in most cases it is not mandatory. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with other maskless conservative lawmakers, regularly appears in the packed and poorly ventilated House of Commons.
For critics, the image encapsulates a flaw in the government’s strategy of abandoning most pandemic restrictions and relying on voluntary control and high vaccination rates to control the spread of the coronavirus.
As winter approaches, the threat of a surge in the new COVID-19 poses a light touch in Britain that sets it apart from the more cautious nation.
“The government’s talk in the pandemic is too little and too late,” said Layla Moran, an opposition Liberal Democratic Party member who heads the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus.
She said some UK hospitals have already seen the expected number of virus patients in the intensive care unit, usually in the middle of winter, but overall daily hospitalization peaks in January. It is done in about one-fifth of.
And while the incident surged when the restrictions were lifted this summer, the deaths did not follow anywhere near the same pace. However, the winter months, when respiratory illness is usually the highest, can pose additional challenges.
“I don’t think we can avoid the worst of the winter unless the government starts something else,” Moran said.
The government claims that the plan has worked so far and can be rerouted if necessary.
The UK has recorded more than 135,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the highest number of casualties in Europe after Russia, about the same per capita as the United States. Nevertheless, it also organized a successful vaccination campaign that saw 65% of the total population fully vaccinated.
Due to its relatively high rate, the Johnson administration decided in July that it would be safe to abolish restrictions on business activities and daily activities. No more social distances, rally restrictions, or masks needed anywhere in the UK. Companies can take their own steps, but otherwise Johnson encourages people to be “wise.”
In contrast to many other European countries, vaccination rates are higher in some countries than in the UK, but in the UK, dining in restaurants, attending large events, admission to crowded areas such as night clubs No vaccination proof is required. Scotland, which is part of the UK but has its own health rules, is becoming more cautious, introducing vaccine passports to nightclubs and keeping mandatory masks indoors.
UK school students and teachers wear face covers, despite opposition from unions and public health authorities, in contrast to European countries such as France, Italy and Spain, which maintain school mask requirements. is not necesary to.
The United States requires millions of workers to be vaccinated, but the Johnson government requires only nursing home staff to certify vaccination and is considering it for healthcare professionals.
The UK once had some of Europe’s strictest international travel rules, but starting next month the quarantine and inspection restrictions for many visitors will be relaxed.
The UK often follows its own path during a pandemic. Health officials gambled at 2-3-month dosing intervals instead of the 3-4 weeks recommended by the vaccine manufacturer to expedite deployment. It has been rewarded in studies since suggesting that longer gaps are at least as effective and perhaps more effective.
The UK has once again diverged from its peers over the issue of immunization of children. When many of the United States, Canada, and the European Union extended vaccinations to children between the ages of 12 and 15, the UK postponed, saying that the health benefits to children were insignificant. The UK then eventually decided to vaccinate that age group, but initially with one vaccination instead of the usual two.
The UK is also ahead of most countries in giving vaccine booster shots, offering a third dose to everyone over the age of 50. This is in conflict with the World Health Organization, which strongly opposes poor countries giving a third shot. I don’t have enough vaccine for their first.In the United States, authorities Approved booster shots for millions of seniors and other vulnerable Americans..
The Johnson administration relies on vaccines to do heavy labor against the virus, complemented by voluntary “common sense” behavior.
However, it is not clear whether the British will be free to choose unenforced virus protection after a very long and strict blockade earlier this year. When the restrictions were first lifted, just under two-thirds said they planned to continue wearing masks in stores and public transport. Today, the number of people wearing covers on the London Underground is declining sharply. This requires the use of a mask, but rarely enforces it.
Critics say the government cannot learn from experience and seems to be underpinned by optimism rather than evidence.
Stephen Reicher, a professor of psychology at the University of St Andrews who assists in advising government, said a year ago when a scientific adviser recommended a short “circuit breaker” lockdown to curb a surge in coronavirus cases. , Johnson’s team remembered that they were slow to act.
“Wait, you have to impose greater restrictions, as it always happens when things get out of control, that’s why we spent non-Christmas and such terrible winters and springs,” he said. I told the news.
Opposition lawmaker Moran and other critics argue that moderate measures, such as improving school ventilation and wearing indoor masks, can avoid the need for strict restrictions this winter. There is.
But the government has pointed out that scientists’ most pessimistic predictions that the number of incidents could reach 100,000 a day by the time schools reopen in September have not been realized.
The UK currently has an average of about 140 deaths per day (a little over a tenth of its peak) and 30,000 new infectious diseases per day.
Johnson said restrictions such as mandatory masks and telecommuting orders could be re-imposed if hospitalizations surged. But he wanted it not necessary.
“As a result of this vaccination campaign, we are one of the freest societies in Europe and one of the most open economies,” he said. “And that’s why we’re sticking to our strategy right now.”
Standing beside him at a press conference, Chief Scientific Advisor Patrick Valence put the brakes on. He said the pandemic lesson was, “When you take action, you have to go faster than you want, you have to go harder than you want.”
“So if this goes the wrong way … it’s important that the measures are implemented early enough and they are important enough,” he said.
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