England removes COVID-19 restrictions as cases rise again | News | DW | 19.07.2021

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England removes COVID-19 restrictions as cases rise again

The decision to ditch most coronavirus restrictions is being strongly criticized by some medical professionals who have been at the forefront in the fight against COVID.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson photographed in Downing Street

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration puts an end COVID-19 restrictions

Leaders in England have gone ahead with plans to end COVID-19 restrictions, in a move garnering criticism from opposition politicians and medics.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson along with his Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that all COVID-19 restrictions would fall away on Monday in what is being widely dubbed as "Freedom Day”.

Watch video 02:00

England set to drop all coronavirus measures

The decision to remove the restrictions comes as the UK reported 48,161 new cases and 25 COVID-related deaths over a 24-hour period.

The change does not apply to the devolved nations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Skeptics express concern over the removal of restrictions

London's Mayor Sadiq Khan has been among those imploring people to continue wearing facemasks and exercise consideration for others. He was quick to remind people that there would still be measures in place on public transport.

Khan's Greater Manchester counterpart Andy Burnham questioned the level of leadership while pouring cold water on the notion of Freedom Day.

Frontline healthcare workers have their say

It hasn't just been politicians who have expressed concern over government's decision to cut the COVID-19 curbs. Those who have been battling the virus in hospitals called for people to continue sticking to preventative measures.

The feeling of consternation is being shared by other medical professionals as hundreds of new COVID admissions swamp hospitals.

In anticipation of "Freedom Day" some were quick to hit London's clubs. The spectre of the pandemic is certainly in the back of many minds. 

"I am so excited — but it's mixed with the sense of impending doom," 26-year-old Gary Cartmill told the Reuters news agency outside an event organized to celebrate the return of live music.

And while some are exercising their newfound freedom, Prime Minister Johnson and his finance minister, Rishi Sunak, will not be in a position to savor it. They will be self-isolating after Health Secretary Javid tested positive for COVID.

kb/rc  (AFP, Reuters)