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UK hopes to consider lifting some lockdown restrictions next March

January 17, 2021
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

LONDON — The UK government confirmed Sunday that it hopes to be able to lift some lockdown measures due to COVID-19 by next March.

The country, which also has Europe's highest COVID-19 death toll, has been under national lockdown since Jan. 5, with schools closed for most pupils, non-essential businesses shut and people ordered to work from home where possible.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned in a press statement that this plan may be exposed to risks in terms of the spread of the new mutated strains of COVID-19, also risking the National Health Service's ability to deal with the pressures on hospitals due to the high number of infected people.

"What we want to do is get out of this national lockdown as soon as possible," Raab told Sky News television.

"By early spring, hopefully by March, we'll be in a position to make those decisions. I think it's right to say we won't do it all in one big bang. As we phase out the national lockdown, I think we'll end up phasing through a (regional) tiered approach."

In this context, he urged for adhering to all measures of distancing and not leaving homes except for necessities, adding that people should avoid traveling to spend holidays abroad because, given the current circumstances, it is considered inappropriate.

Raab confirmed that the government will tighten measures at the borders to verify the travelers' compliance with all procedures and recommendations, especially adherence to the mandatory 10-day quarantine.

By next September, health authorities will offer all adults in the country the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Raab pointed out.

Over 3.5 million people have currently received their first vaccine dose, by mid-February about 15 million jabs will be delivered, by spring there will be 17 million additional doses, he said.

It is worth mentioning that the UK Department of Health and Social Care opened several large centers in different regions to vaccinate citizens, some of which will start next week to work for 24 hours, seven days a week.

The Sunday Times said that British ministers had settled their differences to back a three-point plan that could lead to some lockdown restrictions being lifted as soon as early March.

Areas will have restrictions eased once their death rate has fallen, the number of hospital admissions drops and some people aged between 50 and 70 are vaccinated, the newspaper said.

It quoted ministers as saying they were prepared to resist pressure from health advisers to delay the changes until most people are vaccinated, a process that could take until the autumn. — Agencies


January 17, 2021
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