United Kingdom might ease some coronavirus restrictions before Christmas

The United Kingdom may relax some coronavirus restrictions before Christmas although it comes at a cost: a new tiered system, freshly revamped from the last tiered system. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to release more details to the House of Commons on Monday but the gist of the plan involves making sure people can still do some shopping. Via The Sunday Times:

Many of the government’s scientific advisers believe that retail is relatively low-risk activity in terms of spreading the infection if managed well.

Thomas House, a reader in mathematics at the University of Manchester who sits on Sage’s SPI-M modelling subgroup, said: “If you think about what the worst kind of activity would be, it’s an enormous drunk New Year’s Eve party with lots of people in a confined space and high-risk individuals present.

“Compared to that, shopping with good ventilation, where you can manage flows of people, where there’s contactless payment, where people who have symptoms have enough flexibility to think, ‘I’ve got a cough, so I won’t go this week’ — it does seem to be quite a safe activity. We haven’t seen huge clusters associated with shops.”

Gyms are expected to re-open and the restaurant and pub closure requirement moves back an hour to 11 p.m.

The big change, however, involves tightening local restrictions in England’s tiered system. Johnson’s government appears to still be figuring out exactly what those changes will entail although the BBC reports ministers are expected to say the previous system wasn’t strict enough. There’s a theory England’s system will look more like Scotland’s five-tiered system but that likely puts the major metropolitan areas into lockdown. Parliament will still have to approve the new measures.

What’s more interesting is this semi-bubble system England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are negotiating for Christmastime. Via The Scotsman:

As such, Ministers endorsed a shared objective of facilitating some limited additional household bubbling for a small number of days, but also emphasised that the public will be advised to remain cautious, and that wherever possible people should avoid travelling and minimise social contact.

“Work is continuing to finalise the arrangements, including relating to travel. The UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive hope to conclude this work this week, subject to agreement by each administration.

The BBC noted the government believes most UKers will ignore the lockdown measures anyway on Christmas and attempt to have some sort of normalcy before the end of the year. Which makes sense given the fact people will only allow themselves to be locked down for so long before deciding to do their own thing and damn the consequences. Here’s more from the BBC.

Prof Calum Semple, from the University of Liverpool, said he hoped it would be possible to relax rules over Christmas if the new tiered system worked but warned “there will be a price”, including tighter restrictions in the future.

However, Prof Semple, who is a member of Sage, told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge there was “a lot to be optimistic about”.

He said he expected mass vaccination of the general population to happen towards next summer, which would give “broad immunity” and allow a “return back to normal”.

We’ll see if it works.

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