The United Kingdom faces the arrival of autumn and winter with figures of infections, hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus higher than those of last year at this time. And yet the situation, the Johnson administration estimates, is drastically different. As in many other countries in the world, the difference has a name: vaccines. 80% of those over 16 years of age have already received their full immunization schedule, and the data are overwhelming. The number of seriously ill or deceased is reduced to the maximum among those who have received the double vaccine. This time, however, Boris Johnson will not bet without a net again. The conservative politician promises to try to maintain the "freedom" recovered in July, when practically all social restrictions were lifted,but he has warned citizens that there will be a "plan B" on the table in case the situation gets complicated. "We have one of the freest societies and one of the most open economies in Europe right now," said Johnson, "and we believe that it can be maintained that way with vaccines, continuous testing and with a population that applies common sense."
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The reserve measures put forward by the Government are not necessarily drastic.
In fact, they would mean aligning UK rules with those already applied, or planned to apply, in other European countries.
For example, Downing Street has ruled out, for now, requiring vaccination passports (or certificates of immunity) to gain access to restaurants, bars or nightclubs.
But he has warned all these businesses that they must prepare the necessary logistics in case that demand is finally imposed.
"Because in the current situation, it is small changes like that that can make the difference," Johnson has justified.
Something similar happens with the use of masks.
Since mid-July, its use is no longer mandatory in closed spaces.
Only a few “jurisdictions” have decided to impose the measure at their own risk and expense.
This is the case of public transport - metro and buses - in the city of London.
But not even in those spaces a strict application of the norm is observed.
The Johnson administration is now warning that it will not hesitate to impose the obligation throughout the winter, if it deems it necessary.
Finally, the British Executive suggests that it could recommend teleworking as a priority option again, despite the repeated message in recent weeks that it is advisable to return to the office now.
Waterloo Station in London on July 14.
Matt Dunham / AP
Downing Street has achieved its communication objective: the British media began from early afternoon on Tuesday to speculate on what would be the triggers - number of infections, number of hospitalizations, new variants of the virus ... - that would activate a plan B which, on paper, would represent a minimal alteration of the recovered social freedoms. Johnson bets everything on the vaccination strategy. He has already announced a campaign to give the third booster dose to those over 50, between now and December. And the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunization has given its go-ahead for a dose of Pfizer or Moderna to be injected to minors between the ages of 12 and 16.
With its ability -frivolidad, rather, as his critics to find a catchy slogan for each strategy, Johnson has already announced its hope to convert "
jabs, jabs, jabs
" in "
jobs, jobs, jobs"
Along with these two immediate plans, the Government will concentrate its efforts on convincing the 5.5 million adults who, according to its calculations, have not yet received a single dose of vaccine. "It is about offering the nation the best opportunity to live with covid-19 without the need for new economic and social restrictions," said Sajid Javid, the Minister of Health, in the House of Commons. Since his arrival at the post, the politician has tried to accelerate the de-escalation, at the same time as he promised to avoid the return from confinement. In a sign that, as has already happened in the United States, the fight against the pandemic has also become a matter of political party in the United Kingdom,Minister Javid has had to endure the boos of some of his conservative colleagues when he warned that the Government reserved the option of making the mask mandatory in some closed spaces.
The disaster caused by the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan was also the first reason, in mid-August, for the House of Commons to once again allow all deputies to occupy their benches. It was striking to see how the entire Labor opposition wore the mask, while only a few Conservative MPs wore it. All a sign of the scant support that the Johnson Administration will be able to count on if winter finally forces it to implement its already unveiled "plan B".