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Will England pass all four Freedom Day tests on June 21? ; ITV News

Nicknamed “Freedom Day”, June 21 has dominated England ever since. Boris Johnson announced the final step in the country’s four-part roadmap on Covid restrictions.

From June 21, we were told in February, life would return to pretty much normal. Nightclubs and theaters would open completely, all limits on social contact, such as the rule of six, would be removed for indoor and outdoor environments, and social distancing would be limited to history books.

The roadmap plan has always been warned with caution. The successful deployment of the vaccine, the effectiveness of the vaccines, the impact of infection rates on hospital pressures and the emergence of new variants would all be examined before the country goes back to normal.

Hear more from ITV News Science Editor Tom Clarke on “Freedom Day” on the ITV News Coronavirus Podcast

And now, an increase in Covid-19 cases fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant could put the brakes on ‘Freedom Day’.

The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 in England is now a fifth higher than it was at the end of the second wave of the virus, with more regions reporting an increase in the number of patients.

Government ministers are reviewing the latest data on Covid-19 cases to decide whether the planned easing of social restrictions in England on June 21 will continue and have insisted that the decision to ease restrictions in England on June 21 will continue. June will be based on four tests.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to announce decision on Monday.

The pubs reopened outdoors on April 12. Credit: Pennsylvania

Prior to this announcement, and with growing concerns about a peak in Covid case of the Delta variant (formerly Indian), how certain is the return to normal life and what conditions must be met for this to happen?

Many companies are desperate for the restrictions to be relaxed, how will they be more affected by a pause in unlocking?

1. Deployment of the vaccine

This test gets a big tick for the government. The UK vaccination campaign was a great success with over 61% of adults receiving at least one dose.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Friday he was still confident to deliver every adult a first dose by the end of July.

The government has said it is on track to meet a goal of everyone over 50 being offered their second jab by June 21.

So this is a huge positive, but the vaccines are not 100% effective and not everyone has been vaccinated. Can they withstand the new Delta variant and can the UK get gun hits faster than the variant spread?

Tom Clarke, editor of ITV News Science, said: “We have to remember the vaccine, even though they are really effective, even though they are 95% effective, which still leaves hundreds of thousands of people vulnerable to severe Covid. If the numbers get high enough, theoretically, and the mathematical modeling explodes that, we could still see a third wave as big as the one we just went through. “

But, the good news: The evidence suggests that the first dose of the vaccine gives you some protection and that there is strong data to show that while you might even get sick, it is very unlikely that you will end up with it. hospital, unless you are extremely frail.

2. Do vaccines reduce hospitalizations and deaths?

And more good news – there is evidence that vaccines protect vulnerable people.

Tom Clarke told the Coronavirus: What You Need To Know podcast that when the Alpha (Kent) variant was in circulation, 8% to 9% of those infected would end up in hospital.

Evidence from Bolton, where the Delta variant was first detected, shows that about 1% of people with the variant are hospitalized.

Maybe that’s because it’s younger people who are hospitalized – maybe because a large percentage of the older population has been fully vaccinated – but Tom Clarke said it would take a few more weeks before that data does show the full impact of increasing infection rates. .

Hospitals are seeing younger people being admitted. Credit: Pennsylvania

3. Are hospitalizations increasing?

The third test is that “infection rates are unlikely to increase hospitalizations which would put unbearable pressure on the NHS”.

NHS protection has been at the forefront of lockdown measures and data must show infection rates are unlikely to rise in hospital cases which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS before England can unlock more.

While there is some evidence that vaccines are effective in breaking the link between infection and serious illness, with an increasing number of cases the data is currently pointing in the wrong direction.

The number of hospitalized patients rose to more than 1,000 after falling below 900. On June 6, 153 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital, up from the previous week.

But those numbers are sharply lower at the peak of the second wave, when more than 3,000, sometimes even more than 4,000 people were admitted to hospital each day.

Will life return to normal on June 21? Credit: Pennsylvania

4. New variants

This is the biggest stumbling block and the one that could set back the government’s roadmap.

Data released by Public Health England on Friday showed that the Delta variant was about 60% more transmissible than the Alpha (Kent) variant.

Since last week, the number of cases of Delta variants in the UK has increased by 70% to 42,323, according to PHE and the R number now stands at 1.4

ITV News Science editor-in-chief Tom Clarke said advisers he spoke to said looking at the numbers “it all really comes down to the Delta variant.”

Speaking on the ITV News podcast Coronavirus: What You Need To Know, Tom Clarke said it was “perhaps the fastest growth rate we’ve seen in England in terms of the variant, it’s a worrying amount of spread “.

“You don’t want to make major changes to your public health measures when you face something that is spreading in such an alarming way as this.”

But despite the upsurge in cases, it may not be all bad news.

The increase in cases may not be a problem in itself, if these infections do not lead to hospitalizations and death.

Margaret Keenan was the first person in the UK to receive a Covid vaccine, in December. Credit: Pennsylvania

Tom Clarke explains, “There’s a chance the spread will cause a lot of cases in unvaccinated people, so it’s children, teens, young adults who haven’t been vaccinated, and they’re not going. be a big deal because they don’t get serious illness or die.

“But if the numbers get big enough, the virus could spread to parts of the population, which are vulnerable but unvaccinated, and there are hundreds of thousands of people over the age of 50 who still have not received both doses of the vaccine or who could not get vaccinated for one reason or another. ”

How long would a break last?

At the moment, it’s unclear how long Freedom Day can be postponed.

Tom Clarke says the scientists he spoke to say we’re going to have to wait at least a few more weeks – maybe four – before the picture of the data, which Boris Johnson deemed “ambiguous”, becomes clearer.

“The data is really uncertain, there is a theoretical possibility that we could see so many people die in a third way later if we are wrong and it is better to wait,” said Tom Clarke.

Who will be the most impacted?

The current 30-person limit for weddings was to be lifted from June 21.

The UK Wedding Task Force estimates that 50,000 weddings have been planned for the four weeks from June 21.

Another delay can force couples to cancel again (in many cases for the third or fourth time).

Bride-to-be Jessica Woolley is due to get married in two weeks. She said the idea of ​​reducing her guest list from 102 to 30 was “heartbreaking.”

“It makes me sick,” she told ITV News.

“We are not excited. We are stressed. I have been sick,” she told ITV News.

“We are potentially removing 72 people from our day.”

Weddings are currently limited to 30 people. Credit: Photography Michael Gray

Wedding photographer Michael gray, who lost around 90% of his earnings between March 2020 and March 2021 due to the pandemic, says if restrictions remain in place he faces “another wave of cancellations.”

July had to be a bumper month, with many people postponing their weddings from last year.

“Customers will be forced to cancel or move their dates later in the year, which means another huge loss of revenue after the past 15 devastating months,” he told ITV News.

Burton Constable Hall wedding planner Helen Davies says delays have “affected consumer confidence” and couples are increasingly reluctant to book due to constant change

“It has been impossible to plan anything with so much uncertainty,” she told ITV News.

An empty Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End

Theaters also had to face an extremely difficult 15 months.

This week a frustrated Andrew Lloyd Webber said he would risk arrest to reopen its cinemas on June 21.

The composer and impresario told the The telegraph of the day it may have to sell its six West End locations if the government does not ease its restrictions.

He also revealed that he had previously remortgageed his London home.

Others in the theater world are more measured.

Louis Hartshorn, executive producer of Amelie, currently playing at the Criterion Theater in London’s West End to a small and socially distanced audience, told ITV News that although a delay in the full opening would be “extremely damaging “, it would be more damaging to make the wrong decision and risk taking a step back.

“The bottom line for us is just that the return to restrictions, which was the thing that seemed unforgivable the first time around, is what would seem really unforgivable this time around.

“While there is a tremendous amount of suffering that will occur if, you know, and damage the business and the jobs of the people that would occur if there was an extension of the restrictions, the alternative we had to come back to. later to just be some form of restriction, that would be truly unforgivable. ”

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