UK to Leave Lockdown ‘Once and for All’, Boris Pledges

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference at 10 Downing Street on March 23, 2021 in London, England. The UK held a Day of Reflection today for 126,000 of its people who have died from Coronavirus. A minutes' silence was held at midday …
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that the United Kingdom will leave lockdown “once and for all” and those plans will not change even in the face of a so-called ‘third wave’ of coronavirus coming from Europe.

In a statement on Tuesday marking the first anniversary of the lockdown, Prime Minister Johnson said: “It’s because of every person in this country that lives have been saved, our NHS was protected, and we have started on our cautious road to easing restrictions once and for all.”

The statement marks the clearest confirmation that the United Kingdom will not go into restrictions in the future, contrasting with the prime minister’s remarks from January when he announced England’s third lockdown while making no promise of when it would end.

During a press conference later on Tuesday, the prime minister said that a third wave of the Chinese coronavirus coming from Europe was “inevitable”, according to The Times.

Mr Johnson said, however, that there was “no reason to deviate” from his roadmap to ending lockdown, which puts the country on course to have restrictions lifted by June 21st.

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty also said that there will “definitely be another surge” but that “the path from here on in does look better than the last year”.

Whitty had also said at the Public Health Conference that after restrictions are eased and Britons are given back their freedoms, “there will definitely be another surge at some point”.

The health official then predicted the somewhat ominous set of scenarios: “Whether it’s before winter or next winter, we don’t know. Variants are going to cause problems, there will be stockouts of vaccines and no doubt there will be multiple problems at a national level but also at a local level — school outbreaks, prison outbreaks, all those things that people are dealing with on a day-to-day basis.”

While Johnson has said that restrictions will be eased “once and for all” the ban on overseas travel could be extended from May 17th to the end of June, with quarantine-free vacations to most destinations reportedly unlikely until July or August.

New travel rules coming into effect on March 29th will also mean Britons even being at an “embarkation point” like an airport without a “reasonable excuse” could be fined £5,000.

Number 10 Downing Street told The Telegraph that the measures were designed to discourage Britons from going on a short break over the Easter weekend and importing new variants of the Chinese virus.

So-called unnecessary international travel is forbidden, with only a handful of reasons — work, legal purposes, weddings, etc — listed as valid for leaving the country.

As well as the possible £5,000 fine is the £200 fixed penalty notice for failing to have presented a travel declaration form if requested. The measures came into force on March 8th, and mean that international travellers must fill out the form stating why they are exempt from coronavirus travel restrictions and may leave the country, with police performing spot checks at Britain’s airports.

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