After a few weeks of maintaining a low level of contamination, hospitalization and deaths due to the coronavirus, England and the rest of the United Kingdom are entering the much-feared “second wave” and several restrictions are being made again.
This is not just a predicament here, as France and Spain have also seen their levels rise and are binding restrictions in some cities.
On the morning of 22th of September, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a “COBRA meeting”, and at the end of the day, he made a statement announcing the new security and precautionary measures to try to contain COVID-19.
Just to explain, COBRA stands for ‘Cabinet Office Briefing Room A’ and refers to the emergency council, made up of security officers, military chiefs, emergency service leaders and civil servants.
This is formed when a crisis arises that will require several different departments work together to make possible rapid and effective action against terrorism, refugee crises, etc.
In his speech, Boris announced the following measures for England:
– From the 24th of September, all pubs, bars and restaurants can only serve at tables and must close at 10pm. No people can be standing up, having a drink and such. However, these places can do take-away meals after those hours.
– The use of masks will be mandatory for bar staff and non-seated customers, store workers and waiters. Before, the use of masks was compulsory only for customers.
– Companies are legally required to obtain customer contact details so that they can be tracked if an outbreak occurs. They can be fined up to £ 10,000 if they accept reservations for more than six, do not force social distance or do not get customer contact details.
– From the 28th of September, the number of guests at weddings ought reduced from 30 to 15 people. And funerals can have a maximum of 30 people.
– Regarding indoor sports, up to a maximum of 6 people. It will still be possible for larger groups to participate in sports organized outdoors, but not informally.
– Although last month the government insisted that people return to work in their offices, now, they are asking that all those who have the possibility, should work from home.
– Also, gatherings must be a maximum of 6 people both outdoors and indoors, but different from when there was the lockdown, they can be from several diverse households.
Johnson said that these measures were “robust, but proportional” and if the population does not follow these rules, most drastic measures can be implemented.
He also explained earlier for the Parliament, that unless progress is made, people should assume that the restrictions would remain in effect “for perhaps six months”.
He added: “And for those who say they don’t need these things and that we should let people take their own risks, I say that those risks are not ours. The tragic reality of having COVID is that your slight cough may be the sentence for someone else’s death.”
In the past few days, the highest number of daily cases since May has been recorded. In total, more than 41,850 deaths were tested positive for COVID, but more than 56,956 death certificates mention the virus. Besides, more than 403,500 people were tested positive.
The UK is far behind in terms of testing. That is a major criticism of the government, as there are not enough tests.
An increase in the demand for tests has led to local shortages – with some people sent to test sites hundreds of miles from their homes.
There were complaints that the government underestimated the increase in cases. But Health Secretary Matt Hancock also said that many people without symptoms have been trying to get tested.
The test is vital for tracking infected people and prevent the spread of the disease.
In England, you should look for a test if you experience one of these three main symptoms: fever, continuous cough and loss of smell and taste.
To register to take the test, people living in the UK must log on to this site here or call 119.
One good news is that testing for a vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford will resume after a break due to a related side effect in a patient in the UK.
There are high hopes that the vaccine will be one of the first to reach the market, after the successful testing of phases 1 and 2.
I know that several people think that all this is absurd and that there is no reason for so many measures.
But let’s remember that if this virus gets out of control, again the NHS will not have the capacity to serve cancer patients and millions of other medical needs not related to COVID, due to the lack of beds in hospitals.
So let’s be considerate and do our part and then hopefully, we can have a “normal Christmas”!