Britain to Drop COVID-19 Restrictions
By VOA News January 19, 2022
Britain is ending COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates, working from home and vaccine passports, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Wednesday.
The measures had been introduced to slow the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant of the virus.
"Many nations across Europe have endured further winter lockdowns ... but this government took a different path," Johnson told lawmakers, citing a decreasing number of people being admitted to intensive care because of the virus.
"Our scientists believe it is likely that the omicron wave has now peaked nationally ... because of the extraordinary booster campaign," Johnson said, adding that restrictions also had slowed the spread.
Some scientists disagree with the move.
"Removing (the) measures in the face of extremely high levels of infection is a risk," University of Warwick virologist Lawrence Young said.
"Perhaps it would have been wiser to wait for another couple of weeks before removing the advice to work from home and the face coverings mandate. There's no guarantee that infection levels will continue to fall."
Britain has seen 152,513 deaths since the virus emerged from China in early 2020.
Johnson is currently facing a political crisis, including criticism from his own party, for hosting parties during the peak of lockdowns in the country.
Some say the easing of restrictions is an attempt by Johnson to shore up support among conservatives who disagreed with them.
Johnson said despite the moves, "We must all remain cautious during these last weeks of winter," adding that hospitals still could see increased cases.
"The pandemic is not over," he cautioned.
Some information in this report comes from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.
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