U.K. Warns Covid Curbs May Return If Cases Get Out of Control
(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. held out the prospect of restoring some Covid-19 restrictions amid a surge in new cases, just three days before it plans to drop all remaining social distancing rules.
“Of course if we get into a situation where it’s unacceptable and we do need to put back further restrictions, then that of course is something the government will look at,” Lucy Frazer, a government minister, told Sky News on Friday.
The remarks from Frazer, the government’s solicitor general, are the most explicit yet that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s stated wish for the current unlocking to be “irreversible” may be confounded by the progression of the virus.
The U.K. reported 48,553 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and the number of people in hospital rose 42.8% in a week. The wave of infections from the highly transmissible delta variant is now causing staffing problems for some British employers.
Latest figures showed 520,000 people were told to self-isolate with a notification from the National Health Service Covid-19 app, which tracks contacts of people who have been close to patients who test positive for the virus.
On Monday, the government will allow nightclubs to open for the first time in 16 months and drop remaining Covid rules including limits on gatherings indoors and outdoors, the requirement to wear face masks in shops and on trains, and the guidance for people to work from home if able.
With infection rates rising amid the spread of the delta variant, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned that the U.K. isn’t “out of the woods yet” and said that “I don’t think we should underestimate that we could get into trouble again, surprisingly fast.”
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