Another Coronavirus Lockdown: What is the Tory Government’s Plan for Christmas?

As reported by the Manchester Evening News, the UK’s second wave of coronavirus infections cancelled Christmas plans for millions of Britons last year; most people had just one day of mixing with their ‘Christmas bubble’ in various countries. People living in London and the South East had to stay home instead of celebrating with loved ones. Just six days into the New Year, England entered its third nationwide lockdown. More than 80% of people over the age of 12 in the UK have now been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. More than 15.6 million of the most vulnerable people have received a booster shot. However, there are still thousands of Covid-19 cases per day. Moreover, there are steep rises in infection rates across the Channel in much of central Europe. Is there going to be another lockdown in the UK in 2021?

Omicron Variant Surges Just Before Christmas 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 is a variant of concern. It named it Omicron on the advice of WHO Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution. It made the decision based on evidence that Omicron has several mutations. These mutations may affect how it behaves. The modifications may affect how easily the Omicron variant spreads or the seriousness of illness that it causes. Scientists discovered the Omicron variant in South Africa, according to I news. The discovery of the Omicron variant has led to new restrictions. Mandatory mask-wearing has returned in shops and on public transport, and travel restrictions have increased.  

Covid-19 Pandemic: Past and Present

As stated in the Manchester Evening News, one in 65 people in households in England are infected with the coronavirus. This data is from the Office for National Statistics. Professor Kevin McConway of the Open University says that level of infection is still “quite high”. Professor Kevin McConway adds that vaccination has reduced hospitalidations and deaths. This high rate is not as concerning as it was earlier in the pandemic. But “it’s still too high for comfort,” he said.

Johnson’s Decisions

According to , Boris Johnson has thrown the Covid-19 roadmap into reverse. He has new restrictions designed to slow the spread of Omicron. The prime minister says the new variant seems to be more transmissible. However, he says there will not be another lockdown over Christmas. Moreover, he will not start “plan B” rules, such as working from home and vaccine passports. But for the first time since England’s “Freedom Day” in July, he announced a toughening of anti-Covid measures. The measures include a requirement to wear a face-covering in all shops and on public transport.

Why not another lockdown in the UK in 2021 

According to Bloomberg, Christmas family gatherings will go ahead as normal. Boris Johnson’s government said there is no evidence to suggest extra virus restrictions will be needed. This year, Johnson insists that Christmas will go ahead as usual. At the end of October, he announced that there was no longer a need for restrictions. In a conference in North East England, he emphasised that the government does not see any reasons to tighten the rules.

According to , the government is avoiding winter restrictions because of its faith in the vaccine. The jab has now been extended to over-12s, and all over-18s have been eligible to receive a booster. During a hospital visit in Hexham, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “we, unfortunately, see the waning of the original two jabs. For this reason, we see too many older adults getting into the hospital. We’ve done 10 million booster jabs already, and it’s a convenient thing. People get 95% more protection.” From Jonson’s speech, it is clear that there will not be another lockdown in the UK in 2021. The government has made this decision because of its vaccination programme. However, people are not sure if vaccines can protect them.

Officials Opposing Jonson 

As stated in The Guardian, the prime minister will not start his “Winter Plan B”. Therefore, people are not going to work from home. Johnson said there would be other “temporary and precautionary” rules to ensure Christmas would be “considerably better” than last year. Therefore, Mr Johnson will avoid another lockdown in the UK in 2021. According to Sky News, top health chief, Dr Jenny Harries, has the opposite opinion. She has warned that people should reduce socialising during the festive season. Ms Harries said everyone should reduce the number of unnecessary social contacts. But the PM rejected Dr Harries’ call. Johnson insists that he has a package of “balanced and proportionate measures” to fight against the new Omicron variant.

The Political Impetus Behind Decisions

As reported by the Liverpool echo, many people are looking forward to spending time with their loved ones at Christmas. Last year, Christmas came with the UK’s second wave of coronavirus infections. Most of the country was restricted to just one day of mixing with their ‘bubble’ on that particular day. People had the third national lockdown in January. Thus families were once again unable to see one another.

According to Bloomberg, there’s significant political pressure on Johnson following last year’s chaos when the government cancelled plans for families to see each other over the holiday season. That triggered scenes of panic at train stations. People avoided social-distancing rules and tried to get out of London before the new regulations took effect. From what Bloomberg says, it can be concluded that the government may avoid another lockdown in the UK in 2021 due to political pressure. By taking a political decision, the government will not be taking the people’s health into consideration.

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