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6 Jan, 2021 16:11

‘No big bang’: Third Covid national lockdown for England to end only by ‘gradual unwrapping,’ Boris Johnson warns

‘No big bang’: Third Covid national lockdown for England to end only by ‘gradual unwrapping,’ Boris Johnson warns

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cautioned that the new national lockdown over coronavirus in England will not end all at once. The PM warned it’ll be a step-by-step measure as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage.

At Wednesday’s parliamentary debate Johnson said the nation’s emergence from the “lockdown cocoon will not be a big bang, but a gradual unwrapping.” He added the country would come out of the newly imposed lockdown, “carefully brick by brick until the nation was free from the current confinement.”

After announcing the new legislation in the House of Commons today, MPs were told the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) law would be scheduled to run until the end of March. At risk of causing a major pushback, the PM added it was “not because we expect the full national lockdown to continue until then, but to allow a steady, controlled and evidence led move down through the tiers on a regional basis.”

Different regions of the UK have imposed their own lockdown measures. England uses the tier system. It consists of five grades of lockdown severity. Tier one requires those with weakened immune systems to shield from the virus, whilst tier five involves every citizen and is a full national lockdown. After MPs argued for more information as to when the lockdown would end Johnson said parliament “should, and will inevitably” get a chance to debate the final end date for the lockdown before the end of March. He added that he hoped this would “be substantially before the end of March” and that the reopening of schools was a major “priority.”

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Johnson said the moment when the nation can move out of lockdown “may come after the February school’s half-term.” However, he added the country should “remain extremely cautious about the timetable ahead.”

The comments caused Conservative MP Jeremy Wright to challenge the prime minister to be “more definitive” about the numbers of people that must be vaccinated before restrictions can be lifted. Johnson replied to this by stating there would be “substantial opportunities to relax rules around about February 15,” but stressed this would only happen if high-risk people and priority groups had received the vaccination.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations for coronavirus have increased by over 30 percent in one week, according to recent official government statistics. Despite restrictive measures, the virus is still spreading fast, with a record 60,916 (over a 24-hour period) cases reported on January 5.

As the pandemic keeps gaining ground in the UK, much hope is being put on the vaccines. The UK's vaccination program started in early December, with a jab from Pfizer/BioNtech being the first to get the nation's approval. It was followed by Oxford's AstraZeneca vaccine, which started to roll out on January 4.

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