NEWS DIGEST 21.02.2021: The effects of the UK lockdown roadmap

Good morning!. Today’s news is brought to you via Google News. UK public service broadcaster the BBC asks about the risks of pubs, schools and non-essential shops reopening upon the forthcoming easing of lockdown restrictions expected to be announced tomorrow. Based on scientific knowledge and understanding of the coronavirus and how it has been spreading, the article examines statistics from the SAGE governmental advisory group of scientists and field experts, and examines the possible impacts on viral spread from people mixing at schools, outdoor gatherings, non-essential retail, food and drink establishments and holiday homes and rentals – Lockdown review: What are the risks of schools, pubs and shops reopening? (BBC News Reality Check)

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The British government plans to accelerate its vaccination drive, meaning a vaccine will be available for every adult in the country by July, with over-fifties completely covered by April, according to the Daily Mail. The ‘ambitious’ inoculation target forms part of the government’s roadmap out of the current third lockdown and general restrictions in the country. It was initially expected that all over-18s would be able to receive their jabs by the autumn. “We now think that we have the supplies to be able to do that, we can see the NHS and all of those partners and all of those working on this have been able to deliver jabs at about half-a-million a day, which is an incredible effort,” the British health secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday news programme today – Covid vaccine for every adult in the UK by July 31st: Boris to speed up inoculation drive and jab all over-50s by April, as ministers meet TODAY to finalise lockdown roadmap to let families meet by Easter (Mail Online News)

As part of his plans, prime minister Boris Johnson will also shelve the much-derided regional tier system, which ran from Tiers 1 to 5, with the fifth level being the strictest. By March, schools will reopen under guidelines, people will be able to meet in open spaces and grandparents will be able to see their grandchildren. In April, outdoor sports such as rugby and football will be able to be played and non-essential shops will be able to open again their doors. May will see hairdressers and beauty salons being able to trade again, and self-catering domestic holidays will be permitted. June will see further easing of restrictions on holidays and households will be able to meet freely indoors. The success of the nationwide inoculation programme will see the country unlock faster than expected. A Whitehall source said: “There will be four steps, possibly five, each with dates and details about what businesses can reopen and which activities will be allowed.” A senior government source added: “There will be no more tiers. We’ll be taking these steps as one nation. “No region will be left behind this time. We’re in this together and shall leave together.”BIG STEP 4WARD Boris Johnson’s four-step lockdown roadmap plan revealed as he ditches hated regional tiers (The Sun UK News)

Andrew Rawnsley, writing for The Guardian, said that the prime minister should not repeat his past mistakes in handling the coronavirus roadmap. Previous sure-footed announcements by the leader to ease restrictions only led to a rise in infections, mishandling of which has already led to the UK experiencing three successive lockdowns. Rawnsley accused the PM of making ‘baseless promises that excited false hopes about how quickly the virus could be squashed’ and he and his government of severely underestimating the power of the virus’ spread. The writer however commended Johnson for now being more cautious in his announcements and that ‘results, not rhetoric, are what matter when battling a virus which is beatable by science, but not by his bluster’ – Boris Johnson’s Covid roadmap must not repeat the prime minister’s past mistakes (The Guardian UK edition Opinion)

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