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No route to zero-COVID world, says British PM

No route to zero-COVID world, says British PM

dpa
London 
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is “no credible route to a zero-COVID Britain, or indeed, a zero-COVID world” as he outlined England’s plan to leave lockdown.
During a briefing to lawmakers in British Parliament on Monday, Johnson said data he had received from scientists showed that lifting lockdown restrictions in England will inevitably result in “more cases, more hospitalisations and sadly more deaths” as “no vaccine can ever be 100 percent effective.”
“We cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that debilitate our economy, our physical and mental well-being and the life chances of our children,” he said.
He also revealed that the government is planning to lift all restrictions in England from June 21 this year.
In the months leading up to that date, he confirmed schools in England would reopen on March 8 and care home residents will be able to have contact with one regular visitor from then.
Two households or groups of up to six people may meet outside from March 29, nail salons, hairdressers, all retail and outdoor hospitality venues would reopen on April 12 and people in groups of six can meet again indoors from May 17.
Johnson echoed statements made by his spokespeople on Sunday, which state that four conditions need to be met so that all the restrictions could be lifted as planned in his timeline.
These are successful continuation of the vaccination programme, evidence of reduced hospitalizations and deaths among those vaccinated, declining infection rates and no spread of new variants.
A press conference will also be held by Johnson later on Monday.
In response to the plan, leader for the opposing Labour party, Keir Starmer, told lawmakers this “had” to be the last lockdown.
“I’m glad the Prime Minister spoke today of caution, of this being irreversible, of assessing data and following the evidence,” he added.
“I have to say, it’s a welcome change to some of the language he’s used in the past, I urge the PM now to stick to it.” The chief executive of trade association UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, said members of the hospitality sector were “devastated” that the reopening date was far away.
“The job for the Government now is to make sure that our sector survives this further period of closure intact,” she added.
England’s third lockdown began on January 5, shutting down public life in one of the countries hit hardest by the pandemic in Europe.
Johnson’s easing would only apply to England, however, as the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are determining health regulations independently.
Some young pupils in Scotland’s primary schools and nurseries returned to school on Monday, with the rest of primary pupils and all secondary pupils returning around mid-March.
In Wales, pupils would slowly return to school over the next three weeks, said First Minister Mark Drakeford, while options would be considered for shops and hairdressers to reopen.
Meanwhile, the Northern Irish Assembly is hoping to allow children in Northern Ireland to return to school from March 5.
To stem the spread of infections, the national government has rolled out COVID -19 vaccinations at high speed. More than 17 million people have received a first dose of the jab so far.
A new study by Scottish scientists published on Monday found that people who received the first vaccine dose were less likely to be admitted to hospital with the disease.
The researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland found that people who received the BioNTech/Pfizer jab were 85 percent less likely to be hospitalized four weeks after the first dose, while people who had a AstraZeneca/Oxford jab were 94 per cent less likely to be hospitalized.

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