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UK gov’t confirms lifting of most COVID restrictions next week despite surging cases

Speaking at a press conference Monday at Downing Street, Johnson said it is “vital” to proceed with caution and “this pandemic is not over”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks back to Downing Street after attending a press conference in London, Britain, on July 12, 2021. The British government confirmed Monday that most COVID-19 restrictions in England will end next week despite surging cases caused by the Delta variant first identified in India. (Photo by Ray Tang/Xinhua)

LONDON, July 12 (Xinhua) — The British government confirmed Monday that most COVID-19 restrictions in England will end next week despite surging cases caused by the Delta variant first identified in India.

Most restrictions are set to end on July 19 as part of the final step or Step Four of England‘s roadmap out of the lockdown, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously announced. But this still needs to be confirmed on Monday following a review of the latest data by the government.

The detailed arrangement of Step Four includes: no more limits on social contact to allow people to gather in groups of any size; removing the “one meter-plus” rule in almost all settings, except for specific places such as airports; no capacity caps on large scale events; people are no longer required to work from home, etc.

Speaking at a press conference Monday at Downing Street, Johnson said it is “vital” to proceed with caution and “this pandemic is not over”.

His remarks came as Britain reported another 34,471 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 5,155,243, according to official figures released Monday.

It is the sixth day in a row where the daily cases have been more than 30,000.

The country also recorded another six coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 128,431. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.

Johnson said that England‘s strict border policy would continue, and tracking, tracing and isolating positive cases will stay in place.

The move to Step Four was delayed by up to four weeks so every adult could be offered a vaccine. Some 6.8 million first and second doses have already been administered in England during the delay so far, according to a government statement released on Monday.

It is the right time to go to Step Four, Britain‘s Health Secretary Sajid Javid said during his speech in the parliament on Monday. “If not now, when? There will never be a perfect time to take this step because we simply cannot eradicate this virus.”

Despite the easing which will see legal requirement to wear face masks in shops and on public transport being scrapped, the government will still recommend the use of face masks in crowded areas, according to Sky News.

Scientists have warned that lifting all restrictions at this stage could increase likelihood of dangerous variants.

More than 87 percent of adults in Britain have received the first jab of COVID-19 vaccine and over 66 percent have received two doses, the latest official figures showed.

Javid said that the government is now on track to offer every adult a dose of the vaccine by July 19.

The vaccination rollout will continue to accelerate by bringing forward second doses for under 40s to eight weeks – meaning the entire population will benefit from maximum protection more quickly, according to the government.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Russia, the United States as well as the European Union have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines. Enditem

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