Boris Johnson has been widely criticized for his lack of responsiveness and preparation during the first wave of Covid-19. Since the start of the second wave, the British Prime Minister has been undeniably more cautious. At the beginning of November, when he plunged the whole of England back into confinement, he had promised that the latter would not last more than a month: he would be up on December 3 in the morning. Thursday, November 26, he confirmed that he would keep his word, but his deconfinement is not really one, to the chagrin of part of his majority.
With the exception of the Isle of Wight (in the south), Cornwall and the 2,000 inhabitants of the Isles of Scilly, in the extreme south-west of the island, who should end up in “Tier 1” (the lowest level of restriction, especially with the rule of six people at most per gathering to be observed), 55 million Britons will have to live in a high alert zone (“Tier 2”) or maximum (“Tier 3”). In “Tier 2”, pubs and cafes must remain closed unless they can serve “substantial” meals.
In “Tier 3”, restaurants will only be able to offer take-out, pubs, cafes, hotels, cinema or theaters will remain closed: the daily life of the 23 million Britons concerned will not really differ from confinement. The only difference is that “non-essential” stores will be open. While, unsurprisingly, most of the north-west of England (with the exception of Liverpool), the east of the country and the Midlands are classified as “Tier 3”, areas barely affected by the first wave such as Kent (to the south-east) or Bristol (to the south-west), are also found there. London goes to “Tier 2”.
“We have reason to be hopeful, but the winter will be difficult. If we relax the effort immediately, we risk losing control of the epidemic again ”, Boris Johnson insisted on Thursday. The vaccines are obviously promising, but “It will take months, in the course of the spring, before we have enough people vaccinated and be able to envisage the end of the restrictions”, Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, warned at a press conference in Downing Street.
“Christmas will increase the risk”
While the November containment made it possible to curb the exponential resumption of infections, the number of new positive cases remained close to 18,000 over the last 24 hours, Thursday, and nearly 500 deaths were new recorded (bringing the total since March to over 57,000). “Still 1 in 85 people have the virus at the moment in England, that’s a lot”, stressed Mr. Vallance. Does the government intend to prevent a probable return of infections when restrictions are temporarily lifted, from December 23 to 27, to allow Britons to celebrate Christmas with their families? “Christmas will increase the risk [de reprise de l’infection], it’s no secret. But it’s not the only one, it’s flu season and we know that December and January are the toughest months for the NHS [le système hospitalier britannique] “, Downing Street medical adviser Chris Whitty explained.
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