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Boris Johnson expressed the hope that Britain would be back to normal “in time for Christmas”.

Britain would be back to normal for Covid-19 this Christmas.
Boris Johnson expressed the hope that Britain would be back to normal “in time for Christmas”

 

Announcing a further easing of coronavirus restrictions last week, Boris Johnson expressed the hope that Britain would be back to normal “in time for Christmas”. From this Saturday, people in England can visit gyms, pools and sports facilities. And restrictions on visits to theatres and beauticians will be eased from 1 August.

At that point, the Government will stop urging people to work from home and avoid public transport – thus paving the way for a return to offices. But the Boris Johnson claim that social distancing could be dispensed with as early as November was swiftly contradicted by his Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, who said it’d need to continue for far longer.

Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said there was a “high probability” of a second wave of infections this winter. A clinical trial for a vaccine developed by a team at Oxford University, involving 1,077 people, was hailed as a “milestone” by scientists last week.

The trial showed the vaccine had a high success rate in helping people fight the coronavirus. The team said the vaccine might even be available for use later this year.

Things are looking up, said The Daily Telegraph. More businesses are reopening, employees can soon return to offices, and the PM wants stadiums open by October. COVID deaths are down almost a third in a week.

Now we really can swap the sledgehammer of national restrictions for the scalpel of localized measures. So it’s a good thing that local authorities are getting new powers to close premises and cancel local events, and that central government will soon be able to issue strict stay-at-home orders in areas with local outbreaks.

Yet the PM’s plan is still fraught with risk, said The Independent. His proposed timeline would see “super-spreading” events like football matches held soon after workers return to offices and children go back to school in September.

If the infection rate shoots up as a result, then we can say goodbye to a normal Christmas. Much will depend on the availability of vaccines, said the London Evening Standard. Questions over their likely efficacy remain, but stocking up in case they work as the Government is doing is a sensible move.

It has now signed deals for 90 million doses of vaccines being developed in France and Germany, as well as 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine.

 

 

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