UK Stiffens Its COVID Constraints

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  • A number of European countries have strengthened Covid restrictions in response to rising numbers of cases.
  • In the last week of October, daily Covid cases rose above 50,000.
  • Sajid Javid has said the government is monitoring the situation and added that the most important thing people could do “to keep the virus at bay” is to get vaccinated.
  • Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are each responsible for their own Covid rules.

In reaction to an increase in the number of cases, a number of European countries have tightened Covid regulations. Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, has advised people to get vaccinated as soon as possible to avoid a repeat of the situation in the UK as reported by BBC.

Situation in Europe

Several countries are reporting record-high infection rates, prompting anti-Covid measures like expanding the use of vaccine passports, requiring masks, and advising individuals to work from home.

Austria has declared a full-fledged national emergency and announced that Covid vaccines will be required beginning in February.

Events in the UK

Daily Covid cases surpassed 50,000 in the last week of October. Although the number of people has decreased marginally since then, the seven-day average remains above 40,000.

Jonathan Van Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, has cautioned that the months ahead will be difficult.

The government is watching the issue, according to Sajid Javid, and the most essential thing individuals can do “to keep the virus at bay” is get vaccinated.

Each of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland is accountable for its own set of Covid guidelines.

Another lockdown in the UK?

The health secretary proposed a list of steps in September that would be implemented in the NHS in England came under “unsustainable pressure”. These include: 

  • Requiring Covid passports
  • Making face coverings essential once again
  • Urging people to work from home
  • Conveying clearly and quickly to the public that the level of risk has escalated
  • Necessitating more careful behaviour

These restrictions, on the other hand, would simply bring England into line with the stiffer standards that remain in force in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The government has stated numerous times that it has no plans to impose another lockdown.

Stimulate reconsideration

There is no single incident or set of numbers that will automatically trigger tougher measures, but the government has stated that it will keep an eye on: 

  • Hospitalizations 
  • The quick pace of change in stats
  • The general health of the NHS

Current strategy 

The current government approach focuses on promoting people to get Covid immunizations and boosters. Measures include:

  • Covid booster shots for everyone over the age of 40, as well as other vulnerable populations
  • Single vaccination doses for all 12- to 15-year-olds, with a second shot now available for those aged 16 and 17
  • Urging unvaccinated persons to be vaccinated with free PCR and lateral flow tests
  • A free flu jab offer

Restrictions in England

  • 1m-plus social distancing guidance remains in places such as hospitals and passport control 
  • Face coverings are no longer compulsory by law in locations such as hospitals and passport checks, but the government “expects and promotes” them in crowded/enclosed spaces
  • Masks are still required by some stores and transportation companies
  • People who have been working from home should gradually return to work under the revised guidelines
  • People should test for Covid before travelling to busy settings or spending time with persons who are at higher risk of contracting the virus

The situation in Wales

Covid measures may be reinstated to allow Wales to have a “normal” Christmas, according to First Minister Mark Drakeford.

  • The NHS Covid Pass is required for admittance to nightclubs, cinemas, theatres, and music halls, as well as many other indoor and outdoor events
  • Working from home wherever possible
  • Face coverings are required on public transportation, in businesses, and in hospitals 

Restrictions in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s ministers have emphasised the importance of working from home, urging individuals to do so “where they can” and businesses to support it “whenever practicable.”

If Covid-19 spreads further, Health Minister Robin Swann has warned that some hospitality venues “may be ordered to close” over the holidays.

The autumn/winter Covid contingency plan for Northern Ireland lays out a number of different options, including:

  • Improved self-isolation arrangements for close connections
  • A return to social separation as a requirement

Other current limits include 

  • A limit of 30 persons from various households mixing indoors in domestic situations
  • The requirement of face coverings in stores, indoor sitting events and visitor attractions, public transportation, and other places.
  • Vaccination passports will be required for facilities such as nightclubs, bars, and theatres starting November 29.

Limitations in Scotland

  • The 2m (6ft) regulation still applies in healthcare institutions like hospitals, GP surgeries, and dentists
  • Facial coverings are still required on public transportation and inside locations like shops.
  • Indoor hospitality venues must gather customer contact details working from home if possible 
  • All over-18s must prove their immunisation status at nightclubs and other places.

 

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Source: BBC

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