LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a phased end of the COVID-19 lockdown that will see Britain’s hit economy fully functional again in July, the Daily Mail reported, citing a government plan.
The new coronavirus, which emerged in China in late 2019, has killed 2.4 million people worldwide, boosted normal life for billions and sent Britain through its worst slump in 300 years.
Johnson, who is due out of lockdown on February 22, said the exit plans would be cautious but irreversible. The United Kingdom has vaccinated 15.6 million people with the first dose so far.
The Mail said the limited escape from the lockdown will begin in April with holiday permits and larger hotels reopening, although pubs, bars and restaurants will have to wait until May. Some sports such as golf and tennis can be continued.
Full pub reopening will begin in early June.
“The leisure business may not return to ‘broad normal’ until July under the roadmap out of lockdown,” Mail reported, although it said a final decision had not been made by Johnson.
“Office staff are expected to be told to keep working from home when the prime minister announces his road map,” Mail said. “The message ‘work from home if you can’ will continue into the future.”
Johnson, who has warned people to take newspaper reports on his plans with caution because the final decision has not been made, said he would like to see more data on how the vaccine rollout affects serious illness and death.
So far, there is some data from Israel on that, but not enough from the UK to really be sure of its repercussions, Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser said on Monday.
The easing of the most stringent peacetime restrictions on personal freedom in modern British history would be accompanied by a program of mass testing. British schools will reopen on March 8.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Edited by Kate Holton and Paul Sandle
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