According to the British government, PM Boris Johnson plans to tell the House of Commons on Monday that the national lockdown will be lifted and that schools will reopen and a limited return of outdoor social interactions can happen. Currently, no outdoor social interaction are allowed, leaving parks, coffee shops, outdoor seating at restaurants and most other outdoor activities banned. Johnson also said that come Easter, groups of up to six may meet outside and that entire family households may gather together again. The country entered this most severe lockdown on January 4 following news that a new U.K. variant of the Covid-19 virus that was first detected in the fall of 2020 had suddenly spiked and was much more infectious. Initially the new U.K. variant had been only very slowly spreading among a subset population in Essex.
The U.K. rollout of the vaccine has been aggressive compared to the rest of Europe, where some countries are still struggling to get a regular supply of the vaccine. According to data from the U.K., those vaccinated have a 94% lower risk of having symptoms, and those who do, have a similar powered risk of needing to be hospitalized. The U.K., United States and Israel have been the most aggressive and have seen the most vaccinations per capita compared to other countries. Vaccine availability and economics are the two main causes for other countries not being able to vaccinate their populations as fast.
The lockdown in the United Kingdom has been particularly aggressive in that it even limited interactions among families as well. Unlike the United States, most businesses in the U.K have been forced to close or severely restrict their operations, especially retailers. “This has lead to places like Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street that are normally bustling with pedestrians and traffic looking more like ghost towns as an uneasy silence covers the urban landscape”, said Jack Borrows, a City of London tour operator.