From January 27 this year, English citizens can breathe easily again. They can move around with much more freedom. And they need not confine themselves to their homes and start reporting to offices in person.
These sweeping changes will come into effect as the country’s government reversed these protocols, which came into place after the Omicron wave pushed up the cases. For instance, on December 1, there were about 50,000 cases recorded in a day in the U.K. By January 2022, the cases increased to 1,50,000 infections a day. However, by January 5, the cases peaked at 1,80,000 a day, and since then, the infections have been on a downtrend. The following image depicts this trend.
According to outbreak.info, Omicron became the dominant variant in the U.K. by December 2021. Thus, the latest surge is only due to the rampant spread in the omicron variant.
This rapid rise in infections triggered many precautionary measures from the government. From December 10, face coverings were made mandatory, even in indoor venues. From December 15, the Covid pass was made compulsory to enter crowded places. And from December 13, workers were advised to work from home if possible.
Following the decline in cases since the second week of January this year, wearing a face mask is no longer a legal requirement in the U.K. But citizens are advised to wear masks in crowded places and when encountering strangers. Earlier covid passes were required to enter overcrowded spaces such as nightclubs and pubs, which has been canceled now. In addition, they can attend offices physically and won’t be forced to work from home. Also, Children need not wear masks in schools. These changes come into effect from January 27.
However, the government continued to insist that these changes have no impact on the mandate to get vaccinated. In a video, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid insisted that vaccinations are essential to end the pandemic. “Even on a day of progress, I would urge everyone to think about what they can do to keep the virus at bay. The best step we can all take is to get vaccinated. It was the jabs that got us this far and the jabs that can keep us here too,” he said during the press conference.
These changes have brought in cheers from many quarters of the population who were tired of Covid rules. On the vaccination front, 80% of the population aged 12 or above is fully vaccinated, and 70% had at least one dose. However, resistance to vaccines continued to exist in some sections of the people.
One such widely circulated counter to vaccination was delivered by Dr. Steve James, a critical care consultant. He rejected vaccination and lectured Health Secretary Javid about the possible ills of getting jabbed during the latter’s visit to a government hospital. In successive interviews, James defended his claim that a vaccine mandate is not a good idea. His videos have been widely shared, and the U.K. government can expect some resistance going forward in vaccinating the remaining 20% of the population.