LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lay out plans for the final step to ease the lockdown in England on Monday, including guidance on social distancing, face covering and working from home, the government said.
The remaining legal restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are due to be lifted on July 19, and the decision to continue is scheduled for July 12.
The data suggests that cases will continue to rise as restrictions are eased, but the vaccination program has weakened the link to hospitalizations and deaths, the government said.
People will learn to live with COVID as they already do with the flu, Johnson is expected to say, meaning that hospitalizations, serious illnesses and deaths will continue, but at a much lower level than before widespread vaccination.
“Thanks to the successful launch of our vaccination program, we are proceeding cautiously on our roadmap,” Johnson said in a statement.
“But I must emphasize that the pandemic is not over and that cases will continue to increase over the next few weeks.
“As we begin to learn to live with this virus, we must all continue to carefully manage the risks of COVID and exercise our judgment as we move on with our lives.”
Vaccine uptake in Britain has been strong, with 86% of adults receiving a first dose and 64% receiving two doses by Sunday, government data shows.
However, COVID-19 cases have risen in recent weeks, driven by the now dominant Delta variant, and the final step of easing the lockdown was delayed four weeks to allow more people to get vaccinated.
Data from Public Health England shows that vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness and hospitalizations from this variant, the government said.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said Sunday that masks would no longer be mandatory after the final step to alleviate the lockdown.
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