Despite rapidly rising case numbers, the UK government has stated that it still intends to move to step 4 of it’s Covid-19 roadmap on 19 July. Step 4 involves the removal of Covid restrictions relating to meeting people and wearing masks.
This means that you will be able to meet up with any number of people, indoors or outdoors. The legal requirement to wear a face covering in crowded places will be removed. Businesses that are still closed will be able to open.
The video below is a clip of Sajid Javid speaking to the House of Commons about the changes.
From 16 August, there will be further changes to the rules. People under the age of 18 and people who have had 2 jabs who are close contacts of a person with Covid-19 will will no longer have to self isolate.
Is Removal Of Covid Restrictions Safe?
In the words of Boris Johnson, the current Prime Minister, we must “learn to live with the virus”. The government’s advisors Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty have both said that the virus will always be with us. It is clear that the Covid-19 virus is not going to go away, but is it safe to lift restrictions on 19 July?
Over 45 million people in the UK have had one dose of a Covid-19 vaccination, and over 33 million have had a second dose. People who are vaccinated are still at risk of catching Covid-19, particularly the delta variant. They are, however, not as likely to be seriously ill as those who are not vaccinated.
With a population of around 67 million, it is clear that a significant proportion of the population is not yet vaccinated. This includes children, as the Covid-19 vaccine is currently being offered to those aged 18 or over. There are also a significant number of people who are unable to have the vaccine due to pre-existing health conditions.
For those who are vaccinated, the effect of lifting restrictions on 19 July will probably be an increased risk of catching Covid-19. The risk of serious illness in this part of the population is relatively small due to the effects of the vaccine. For those who are not vaccinated, or who have not yet had a second dose of the vaccine, the risk of serious illness is much higher.
What About Herd Immunity?
Herd immunity is the idea that once enough people in the population have Covid-19 antibodies, their resistance to the virus will protect the whole population. This is because when enough people are resistant to the virus, the virus will not be able to spread easily amongst the population. This reduces the risk of catching Covid-19 for those who are not vaccinated.
A large proportion of the UK population will now have antibodies. This will mainly be due to the vaccine, and also due to people having previously had Covid-19. Despite this, the UK does not yet have herd immunity. This will require many more people to be vaccinated, and for the effects of new variants to be understood.
Even the UK government has stated that they expect Covid case numbers of over 100,000 per day over the summer after removal of Covid restrictions. This suggests that the government are carrying out an experiment in developing herd immunity by allowing case number to rise. This is likely to cause many more people to develop serious illness or die from Covid. Removal of restrictions combined with a part vaccinated population may even help more resistant strains of the virus develop.
Preparing For The Removal Of Covid Restrictions
If you are able to have the Covid-19 vaccination, do so. This is the most important thing you can do to protect both yourself and others. The vaccines have been proven to:
- Reduce the risk of catching Covid-19
- Reduce the risk of serious illness if you do catch Covid-19
- Reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19 to others
There are a significant number of people who are unable to have the Covid-19 vaccination. This can be due to age (currently the vaccine is offered to those aged 18 or over only), or pre-existing health conditions. Everyone who is able to have the vaccine should do so as soon as possible.
Wearing of face coverings is set to become personal choice instead of mandatory. While wearing a face covering will do little to protect you from catching Covid-19, it will reduce the risk of you transmitting it to others. Many people seem to think that because they do not have symptoms of Covid-19, or have been vaccinated, they do not need to wear a mask. As preppers, we should consider how to protect our community as well as just ourselves. Wearing a face covering in crowded spaces, particularly if you have any illness, will help reduce the spread. Some of the people you come in to contact with may not have had, or be able to have the vaccine, and therefore may be in danger of serious illness.
Avoid Crowded Spaces
The only certain way to avoid contracting Covid-19 is to avoid contact with anybody, but this is not practical. Covid-19 is transmitted between people more easily in crowded, indoor spaces. Avoid crowded, indoor spaces as much as possible, particularly once face coverings are not required. This is particularly important if you have not yet had, or are unable to have the Covid-19 vaccine. Eventually, the risk will reduce as more and more people are vaccinated, but currently there is still a significant risk.
Some businesses have stated that they will continue to enforce the wearing of face coverings and use of hand sanitiser after 19 July. This will make those businesses safer places to visit than those not enforcing these rules.
Rapid lateral flow coronavirus tests can be used regularly by people with no Covid-19 symptoms. Many people who have Covid-19 do not have symptoms, so this testing can help identify if you have the virus. The rapid lateral flow tests can be done at home and are available for free from the NHS. You can collect the tests from Covid test centres, pharmacies or order online for delivery to your home.
If you do have any Covid-19 symptoms, you need to take a PCR test, which can be done at one of many test locations around the UK.
Isolate If You Test Positive
If you have any symptoms that could be caused by Covid-19, you should get a Covid test. If the test is positive, stay at home for a 10 day isolation period. Your close contacts should also self-isolate. This will help to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Now would be a good time to stock up on some long-lasting foods so you’re ready to isolate!