In Britain there are people who cannot wait until Monday is finally. Then July 19 will be Freedom Day, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s executive order. From that day on, citizens must be freed from all the restrictions the pandemic has placed on them, at least in England. The anticipation seems to be so great for some that they no longer feel bound by Corona’s rules. There is, for example, the older man who sits on the bus without a mask during rush hour in London on Tuesday night. Or the young woman who simply drops into a seat in the subway who is supposed to remain free. The following rules still apply: social distancing i.e. keep your distance, please
It looks like that shouldn’t change anytime soon. Because there is more and more resistance against the Conservative Prime Minister’s declarations of freedom. So far this is more evident in London. There, Mayor Sadiq Khan announced on Wednesday that, contrary to the government’s decision, he wanted to maintain the mask requirement on local public transport. The Labor politician has ordered mouth and nose covers to continue as part of the conditions of carriage of the public transport company Transport for London. This means that anyone wishing to travel by bus or metro in the British capital will have to wear a mask in the future.
Khan announced quite candidly via Twitter that he didn’t think much of Johnson’s speech on freedom – neither in terms of health policy nor the economy. “Wearing face coverings helps reduce the spread of the coronavirus and gives Londoners the confidence to travel – this is essential for our economic recovery,” the mayor of London wrote. And to add: “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.” This principle will apply in the capital “as long as we are still afraid that the virus is transmitted”.
The uncertainty is great
London should not be left alone with this decision. In other major cities, such as Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol, mayors are already in talks with private transport companies to keep the mask requirement in place. You have the unions on your side, warning of the potentially devastating health consequences for bus drivers and metro workers. However, some private rail companies have announced that they will no longer insist on masks from Monday. Airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair, on the other hand, have said mouth and nose covers should always be worn on board.
Either way, there is great uncertainty among the population. According to the polls, the majority would like to maintain the mask requirement in local public transport. Johnson noticed it too, so the PM made it clear earlier this week that it was advisable to wear masks wherever there were a lot of people you don’t know. The question remains: why is Johnson recommending only this? Or to put it another way: why is it relying on personal liability and letting it be decided to what extent Corona restrictions should continue to apply to state-owned and private carriers?
Well, in the governing district, the answer is relatively clear: the majority of Tory MPs in Johnson’s lower house would likely deny allegiance to the PM if he extended corona measures despite promises to the contrary. It is therefore now above all for the economy to set its own rules. And they turn out to be very different.
Theaters want to see vaccination cards – clubs don’t
On the one hand, there are the London theaters, which have agreed that visitors must show proof of vaccination. In contrast, there are two of the largest club operators in the country who ask their guests nothing at all when they enter, no negative test, no proof of vaccination, nothing at all. People should dance and have fun again like they did before the pandemic.
It didn’t help that Johnson said on Monday that it was a ‘social responsibility issue’ that nightclubs in particular should insist their guests show their guests the so-called Covid pass, which is automatically issued. in Britain via the NHS health services app. Even the director of the UK Cinema Association doesn’t want to know. He clarified that there should be no restrictions on going to the movies. After all, the government has ordered the removal of all corona restrictions.
Owners of pubs, cafes and restaurants must also think about how to handle the freedom imposed by the government. While large pub chains are already anxiously awaiting the end of the distancing requirement, there are Michelin-starred restaurants that will likely continue to measure the body temperature of diners and are considering checking the Covid Pass at the entrance in the future. .
After Wembley and Wimbledon, the whole of England becomes an experimental laboratory
What is certain is that the risk of contagion in the UK is still high. The number of new infections has increased by 25% to more than 36,000 cases in the past seven days. The incidence is 320, but that doesn’t seem to worry the government too much. Johnson and his scientific advisers point to the number of deaths and hospital admissions, which are low compared to the first and second corona waves. Government optimism continues to feed on the vaccination campaign. So far 87 percent of adults have received the first vaccine, 66 percent have already received the second.
The easing, which is expected to apply from Monday, is very controversial among British scientists. Prime Minister Johnson still wants to keep it. After the government calls the European Football Championship matches at Wembley and the tennis tournament at Wimbledon with large audiences as research projects, the next step is looming on Monday, according to the motto: Freedom Comes Home . All of England, it seems, is becoming an experimental laboratory.