By now I hope you have seen the various statements from the Prime Minister, Health Secretary, Education Secretary and Transport Secretary which outline what life under Step 4 – likely to be commencing on 19 July – will look like, as well as changes to self-isolation rules and the present bubble system education settings.
I would highly recommend having a read of the Government’s summer response document, which gives some detail behind the plan and why we believe it is the right way forward. I do understand there are some who feel anxious, and I think it will offer some reassurance about the approach. It is thanks to the success of the vaccine programme, and that the vaccines in use in the UK work so effectively, that we have been able to change the previous links between cases and deaths. It is also thanks to incredible scientific advancements in treatment (many of which were funded and trialled here in the UK) that the prognosis for those who do require hospital treatment is so much better.
We have reached the stage in our vaccination programme where we really need those younger adults to come forward for their vaccines. So if you are over 18 and have not yet booked in, please do so. Our vaccine defence is doing a great job at protecting the NHS from being overburdened by covid cases, and of course means we are less likely to catch covid – and if we do, much more likely to suffer milder symptoms. Plus of course, the exemptions to self-isolation for contacts of positive cases will only apply to over 18s who have been double vaccinated, so please do get the vaccine.
The four tests set out by the Government in the roadmap document are being met, and NHS Director Stephen Powis confirmed this week, that the NHS can cope with the predicted rising cases we are experiencing.
The Government will be publishing guidance in advance of step 4 to advise us all on how to mitigate our personal and community risk of covid. This will include good ventilation in indoor spaces, wearing face coverings in crowded indoor areas and self-isolation for those with symptoms and then test positive for covid will continue.
A number of people have asked me if I will continue to wear a face covering once the legal requirement to do so has been removed. The answer is yes, in some situations. I will likely wear one when in a crowded space indoors such as busy public transport, around people I do not normally mix with, and if anyone I meet would feel more comfortable if I wore one.
The British people have, throughout this pandemic not only shown incredible resilience but enormous capacity to abide by the guidance in order to protect their community, their families and the NHS. I have every confidence that selflessness will continue, and people will follow the guidance as we move towards reclaiming our freedoms.