Covid-19 Pandemic: The Chancellor of the Exchequer Has to Choose between an Economic Boom and a Safe NHS

Although new variants of COVID-19 are circulating around the world and new cases are still being reported on a daily basis in the UK, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has requested easier travel rules for the country to boost the economy, while new patients are placing extra pressure on the National Health Service (NHS).

On 29 January 2020, the first case of Covid-19 was detected in the UK. Ever since, the country has experienced a rough period with many Covid-19 cases and deaths. Over four million lives have been lost globally due to Covid-19. Of these, an estimated 130 thousand people have died in the UK.

The UK government has claimed that the government’s goal has been to protect people and its priority has been to save lives throughout the pandemic. The UK government has set three lockdowns so far, starting March 2020. It imposed a quarantine first, restricting all contact and travel. Travelling was only allowed for jobs which could not be done remotely. The UK experienced its second lockdown last summer, when a new wave of coronavirus infections hit the country.

After about a year, the UK went into a third lockdown in January 2021 due to a surge in the number of daily deaths to one thousand people per day. Schools changed to remote learning and employees began working online. Individuals could leave their homes only if necessary, such as shopping for basic needs or helping vulnerable people. The UK government cited the surge in the number of patients as placing pressure on the National Health Service (NHS) and warned that new cases would put more pressure on NHS staff. It sounded the alarm that hospitals were under enormous pressure and emphasised that everyone had to do their share to protect doctors and nurses so they could continue to save lives.

The UK Categorises Arrivals from Different Countries

The UK government implements its own traffic light system for international travel. This was established by the Global Travel Taskforce (GTT) and set out strict rules for people coming from Red, Amber and Green countries. Self-isolation is not needed in the UK; only a Covid-19 test before entering and a test two days after arrival is required.

People from amber countries need to take a test three days before entering the UK and a PCR test two days after arrival. Those who are not double jabbed must isolate for at least ten days. Arrivals from red countries should take a test before entering the UK and must isolate themselves regardless of vaccination.

After a long lockdown, on 19 July 2021 the UK government eased all Covid-19 restrictions and limits on how people could meet in any settings indoors or outdoors. Following the removal of restrictions, British airlines and holiday companies are expecting a summer travel boom. The Covid-19 pandemic had paused most international travel and threatened thousands of jobs. Based on data, the number of passengers travelling through Heathrow Airport fell by 75% in the first half of 2021. Despite new Covid-19 cases and the Delta variant spreading globally, the travel industry is pushing for their businesses to gain profits and have urged the UK government to ease travel restrictions. The UK government is considering the creation of an amber list to make people aware of the emergence of new variants in some destinations and keep the expensive PCR test compulsory for passengers on this list.

The Chancellor Wants Easy Travelling

The travel and hospitality industries and businesses are lobbying for the removal of more restrictions to encourage holidaymakers to travel to the UK. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has also urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to relax holiday and travel rules. He has warned that border rules are damaging the country’s tourism and hospitality sector. Sunak referred to the country’s vaccination programme as a successful one and added that opening up the country will boost the economy.

Sunak, who was appointed as chancellor in February 2020, has struggled with a Covid-hit economy since the beginning of his tenure. Some experts believe that Sunak wants to take control of the economic policy after a hard eighteen months that the chancellor has had to pay people’s salaries during the pandemic. Also, he is considered by some as Johnson’s best successor and now wants to take the economic power in his own hands.

Nevertheless, a group of UK scientists and health experts have already warned about removing social distancing restrictions. Some have expressed their concerns over the more transmissible Delta variant spreading as quickly as chickenpox. This group of scientists protested the government’s decision that eased restrictions on 19 July, at a time when other variants are spreading around the world, including the UK.

The UK government lifted compulsory mask-wearing, limited number of people in social gatherings, and limited travel. It also removed self-isolation for fully vaccinated people arriving in the UK from specific countries. Some members of the scientific group have reiterated that the new Delta variant has been surging in several countries, including European countries, despite vaccination. The concern is now the easing of restrictions and “a considerable escape of the Delta variant from immunity derived from past infections and even from vaccinations.”

Passengers Should Stop Spreading Covid-19 Variants

According to a doctor in the group, a country can only safely remove Covid-19 mandates when 70% of its population has been fully vaccinated. It can only ease travel restrictions when other countries have been vaccinated to the same level. This warning came before the 19 July Freedom Day. As of 5 August, fully vaccinated people in the UK number around 59%, or 39 million people. Despite the fact that the chancellor and travel and hospitality industries are pushing for more travel during the summer holidays, Boris Johnson has said that although the double vaccination offers more safety from the disease, Covid-19 is a dangerous virus and the UK must stop the new variants from coming into the country.


Despite the fact than less than 70% of the UK population is double jabbed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, together with the travel and hospitality industries, are urging easier travel rules to boom the economy and businesses.

The NHS has been under huge pressure since the first Covid case was identified in the UK. Many people have lost their lives in the country because of it, so returning to the pre-coronavirus era is still not a possibility. On the other hand, new variants of Covid-19 are hitting the world, making it unsafe to travel, bringing new cases into the country.


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