Last night the Prime Minister set out what rules and restrictions we can shed and how we can return to a new normality from July 19th. This is Step 4 of the COVID Recovery Roadmap and the final decision on its go ahead will take place on July 12th.
Throughout this pandemic, we have been cautious and taken each decision with the great attention it deserves. If you remember, we had to delay this stage of unlocking to get more jabs in arms and more people building up that immunity to COVID – 19. People will continue to get this virus, and some may see themselves hospitalised. However, and this is important, the link between the virus and serious illness has now been broken. It has been broken because of our world class vaccination programme.
Over 45 million people have had their first dose, and almost 34 million their second – this is a higher proportion of the adult population than any European country except Malta. In Tamworth, 80% of the population have had our first dose and 61% our second.
This fourth step will balance the risks, the risks of the disease itself against the risks of continuing these restrictions that have taken their toll on peoples’ health, lives and livelihoods. I agree with the Prime Minister, that if we cannot envisage seeing ourselves emerge from these restrictions in the next few weeks – when will we ever. If we delay again, will we then open up in winter when respiratory diseases have the advantage or will we not open up in 2021 at all?
The Prime Minister has set out the following 5 steps for the next stage from July 19th
- Reducing the interval between the 1st and 2nd dose from 12 weeks to 8 weeks. Meaning everyone over the age of 18 is double jabbed by mid-September. Together with booster jabs for the most vulnerable in the Autumn
- Removing legal limits on numbers meeting indoors and outdoors, all businesses will reopen, lifting limits to care homes, attending events and removing the legal obligation to wear a face covering. However the guidance will be to wear a mask in those more crowded areas.
- The Test, Trace & Isolate system will be more proportionate. For those fully vaccinated and children, we are looking closely at how we can make this more fitting to the soon to be present level of unlocking.
- Maintaining tough border controls such as the red list. However, we will work with the travel industry to remove the isolation requirement from those who have two jabs and have returned from an amber country.
- The data will be continually monitored, especially on the approach to winter. With this emphasis on using other methods to reduce any outbreaks, we can avoid any further lockdowns.
This epidemic is not over. Just because we set the date for July 19th as the day to cease many restrictions, that will not mean the virus disappears. These proposed changes will see us shift in living with this virus, because that is what we have to do – live with it because complete eradication will take a long time. We must use our common sense and take that step to personal responsibility. Many people will be hesitant to peel back the face mask on day one, and that is fine – use the guidance where it fits best for you and how you feel most comfortable.
I know cases are high in Tamworth, I have been working closely with our local Public Health teams to make sure they have all the tools at their disposal so they can manage the situation with how they deem is best – and I am pleased they have a clear plan ahead. Continue to get tested and continue to do your bit in keeping people safe.