England To Lift Second National Lockdown on Dec. 2, Wider Leisure Sector to Reopen
England will lift its second lockdown from Dec. 2 as scheduled, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday.
Gyms and non-essential businesses will resume, as will outdoor sports. The wider leisure sector will reopen, Johnson said.
England will return to a pre-lockdown tiered system, except that the tiers will be much tougher this time around. Pubs will remain closed in tier 3 areas. They will be allowed to stay reopen in tier two areas, if they serve meals.
Film and TV productions continued under strict COVID-safety measures.
The U.K. has recorded 18,662 new cases and 398 deaths in the last 24 hours. Of these, 16,668 are in England, 844 in Scotland, 808 in Wales and 342 in Northern Ireland. There are now more than 1.5 million cases recorded in total, and deaths have crossed 55,000.
Despite the grim numbers, the mood across the country is upbeat due to the rapid emergence of vaccines that could possibly quell the virus. After the successful trials of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which claim 95% protection, Monday brought news of the homegrown vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca that is up to 90% effective. The U.K. government has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and AstraZeneca will produce three billion doses for global dissemination in 2021.
“As soon as a vaccine is approved, we will dispense it as soon as possible,” Johnson said.
Wales went into a fire-breaker lockdown Oct. 23 and came out of it Nov. 9. Northern Ireland’s lockdown was lifted Nov. 20 but the territory will be locked down again for two weeks from Nov. 27. Restrictions continue across Scotland.