British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will map England’s way out of the COVID-19 lockdown as the government, supported by one of the world’s quickest vaccine rollouts, is prepared to relax restrictions and reopen a ravaged economy.
The pandemic has struck the United Kingdom hard, recording more than 120,000 deaths-the fifth-highest official toll in the world-and experiencing its largest fiscal crash in more than 300 years.
But a swift start to the roll-out of the vaccine plus a tough national lockdown of nearly two months means Johnson will set up a so-called “roadmap” out of tight lockdown measures on Monday.
The first steps will see children return to English schools on March 8 and social mixing is allowed outdoors.
Since January 5, schools have been open only to needy pupils and to the children of key staff, with all those studying at home.
Total daily cases of coronavirus last week hovered about 11,000 a day, compared to a peak of more than 80,000 in late December after the so-called Kent variant, which scientists claim is more transmissible and deadly than the initial first-wave strain, raced across the UK.
“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far,” Johnson is expected to say in an address to Parliament, scheduled to take place at 15:30GMT.