Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a staged exit from COVID-19 lockdown that would see the United Kingdom’s battered economy fully returning to work in July, the Daily Mail reported, citing government plans.
The novel coronavirus, which emerged in China in late 2019, has killed 2.4 million people worldwide, upended normal life for billions and tipped the United Kingdom to its worst slump in 300 years.
Johnson, who will set out the path out of lockdown on February 22, said the exit plan will be cautious but irreversible. The United Kingdom has vaccinated 15.6 million people with a first dose so far.
The Mail said a limited escape from lockdown would begin in April with holiday lets and larger hotels reopening, though pubs, bars and restaurants would have to wait until May. Some sports such as golf and tennis could resume.
Full pub reopening would begin in early June.
“Leisure businesses may not return to ‘broadly normal’ until July under a roadmap out of lockdown,” the Mail reported, though it said the final decision had yet to be made by Johnson.
“Office staff are expected to be told to keep working from home when the prime minister unveils his roadmap,” the Mail said. “The ‘work from home if you can’ message will continue for the foreseeable future.”
Johnson, who has cautioned people to take newspaper reports on his plans with caution as a final decision is yet to be taken, says he wants to see more data on how the vaccine rollout is affecting severe illness and death.
So far, there is some data from Israel on that, but not enough from the United Kingdom to be absolutely sure of the impact, Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser said on Monday.
The easing of the most stringent peacetime curbs on personal freedoms in modern English history will be accompanied by a mass testing programme. English schools will reopen on March 8.