The clubs are crowded, sports events are taking place, and the streets are full of life again. At first glance, England looks like a country that has left the virus behind. But the end of the pandemic could hardly be further away.
On midnight the clubs were allowed to open their doors again. Happy party life or a high risk and hence an act of irresponsibility? The rest of Europe is watching this kind of test closely. If this works out, could this also work out for the rest of Europe?
FREEDOM DAY IN UK
It should have been the glorious end of the “one-way street towards freedom”: People up in each other’s arms, dancing the night away in packed clubs and dropping the masks.
This was the vision of Boris Johnson, who for months praised his “cautious but irreversible path”, at the end of which the long-awaited “Freedom Day” was to stand. England is now also experiencing this Freedom Day – but there can no longer be any talk of caution. And in the case of Boris Johnson, not freedom either. The Prime Minister has been in quarantine since the weekend as a close contact of his infected health minister.
MOVING THE RESPONSIBILITY TO THE PUBLIC
Masks have been voluntary in most places since Monday, as has spacing. There are no more restrictions on clubs or private parties, theatres and cinemas are also allowed to fill their halls. Thousands of revellers greeted their newfound freedom in the early hours of the morning with the first club night in months. “When should we do it if not now?” asked Johnson on Monday at a virtual press conference straight from quarantine. The situation will be even more difficult in autumn or winter, he said.
Meanwhile, the highly contagious delta variant continues to drive up the number of Corona infections in the UK – there is no sign of the wave levelling off, with the seven-day incidence last reported close to 400. More than 50,000 new cases are registered almost daily – almost as many as at the peak of the second wave at the turn of the year.
INFECTION RATE RISING
It is an experiment the likes of which has hardly been tried in any other country. And already now, far before the presumed peak of the current wave, it is becoming apparent that freedom and pandemic do not really want to go together: Around 1.7 million Britons are currently in quarantine, according to a report, because they were “pinged” as close contacts of infected people by the Corona app or called by the health service.
The “pingdemic”, as the phenomenon has already been christened by the British media, is becoming a logistical problem on every corner: because there are no train drivers, waitresses or cashiers, underground lines have already had to temporarily suspend their services, the first pubs have had to close again and supermarkets are considering shortening their opening hours. Business associations are demanding that the compulsory quarantine after contact with infected persons be replaced by daily tests for vaccinated persons – this principle has already been introduced in the health service. Johnson also announced exemptions for critical infrastructure workers on Monday night.
ABOVE 80% WITH FIRST VACCINATION
Meanwhile, 88 per cent of adults in the UK have received a first vaccination. Close to 70 percent have already been vaccinated twice. But experts doubt whether this will be enough to withstand a large wave of infection. According to epidemiologist Neil Ferguson of Imperial College in London, it is “almost inevitable” that the number of new daily infections will soon exceed 100,000.
“The real question is whether it will even double that, or even more,” Ferguson / BBC on Sunday.
In the worst case scenario, if the number of hospital admissions reached 2000 or 3000 a day, measures would have to be taken again to get the situation back under control, he warned.
ROUGH DISCUSSION WITHIN THE TEAM
Could this be the way for Europe as well? With the rising number of vaccinated People, taking the risk and reopening everything? We honestly cant give you the answer. Even within the team the debate went hot – some pro’s some cont’s. Are we risking a fourth wave and lifes or has the time come to dare a restart?