Boris Johnson unveiled his plan for the U.K.’s relaxation of regulations May 10. The government’s plan is based on five levels of COVID-19’s presence in the U.K., with one signifying the disease is completely absent, and five, signifying the NHS is overwhelmed with cases of the virus. Johnson said that the focus is on moving regulations from level four, where we are currently, to be in accordance with level three, where Britain is nearing.
Johnson is labeling this first scale back of restrictions as “Step one,” which will introduce more freedom surrounding outdoor exercise and encourage workers who cannot work from home to return to their jobs.
“We are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures,” Johnson said.
However, social distancing regulations remain and members of the public will need to maintain two meters of distance until announced otherwise. Johnson also announced that fines will be increased for those caught breaking these restrictions.
In response to Johnson’s remarks, Connor Eaton (‘21) said he thought much of what the Prime Minister said was “expected,” and that “the British government is particularly focused on reducing the rate of infection and managing statistics [of the virus].”
Eaton said that he doubts the revision of the restrictions, to go in effect Wednesday, will actually enact change.
“[The new measures don’t] really change much,” he said. “It’s more symbolic. Mr. Johnson is essentially saying that we’re on the path to considering reopening with the step system. Because there’s not a stringent observation or enforcement of [the regulations].”
All action from the government is being made via the monitoring of the “R” number, a measure of the average rate at which the virus will spread after infecting one person. Currently, the rate is anywhere from 0.5 to 0.9 in the U.K.
Johnson also outlined a timeframe in which primary schools could reopen, with the earliest possible re-opening date being June 1. This would be part of step two of the progressive easing of lockdown measures. However, the school already decided that campus will be closed for the remainder of the school year May 4.
Eaton said that he believes that this step is “primarily for key workers who have [younger] children. Key workers can begin focusing on carrying out key work instead of child care. It didn’t really surprise me.”