UK News and Opinion - The Huffington Post United Kingdom
UK News and Opinion - The Huffington Post United Kingdom
UK's Strict Travel Rules Begin - One Year After The First Covid Case Was Detected In England
As of 4am on Monday morning, everyone who wants to travel to the UK will have to provide a negative coronavirus test. Proof of the test, taken up to three days before traveling, must be shown on departure.The rules also apply to British nationals, meaning any hoping to return home from abroad will not be able to if they test positive, unless they meet a very limited criteria for exemptions.It is the first time a negative test has been required to enter the UK since the first coronavirus case was detected in the country on January 31, 2020.A long list of countries, including Japan, Thailand, Iraq, Belgium, South Africa, Dubai and China, already require pre-departure testing as a requirement of entry for various groups of people.All travel corridors, which allowed people to arrive in the UK from some countries without having to quarantine, have also been closed. This means people arriving in the UK from anywhere abroad, apart from Ireland, have to self-isolate for ten days. The 10-day isolation period can be cut if someone pays for a private Covid-19 test five days after arrival in the UK and they receive a negative result.Due to the discovery of new variants of the virus, a travel ban has been imposed on people coming from South Africa and Brazil as well as other countries seen to be high risk including Portugal. British and Irish citizens and foreign nationals with residence rights will still be allowed into the UK, but have to quarantine for 10 days and will not be able to shorten this isolation by paying for a Covid test. Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on Friday the new strict travel rules were “vital” to prevent Covid spreading even quicker in the UK and that the government would be “stepping up” enforcement of the rules.Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, on Sunday did not rule out bringing in further measures including requiring arrivals to quarantine in government run hotels or using GPS tracking to ensure people are complying with the rules.But the UK has been much slower in introducing strict incoming travel rules than many other countries, having chopped and changed various restrictions since the first case was identified almost one year ago.Professor John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told Times Radio on Sunday ministers had taken a “rather lax” approach to travel.While Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s shadow home secretary, accused the government of “chronic, systemic failures” on the border which have been “putting the public at risk”.New Zealand, which confirmed its first case of Covid on February 28, closed its borders to all non-residents on March 19. Residents returning home were required to self-isolate. On April 10 the rules were tightened with the isolation having to take place in government run hotels.Australia confirmed its first case on January 25 and its borders were closed to non-residents on March 20. From March 27 people returning home to Australia had to quarantine for two weeks in government run hotels.Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, last week told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme because the UK is “an island” it was harder to impose travel restrictions than for some other countries. “We have to have links with the outside world,” Shapps said. “We can’t bring in food, medicines, and sometimes people need to move around in order to ensure those essential supplies can be provided here. So we do need to have connectivity.”Australia and New Zealand are also islands.Defending the government’s past more relaxed travel policies, Shapps pointed to the United States having “among the worst, if not the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak” despite having “banned almost all international travel” on March 12. The United States is not an island.Related... These Are The Only 4 Areas In England Where Covid Cases Are Still Rising Every Adult In UK To Be Offered Covid Vaccine By September, Says Dominic Raab This Is The UK's Path Out Of Covid Hell – And How Long It Will Take
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19 Things Introverts Wish Their Bosses Knew
Introverts often respond to the world differently than their extroverted counterparts. That applies to everything from how they behave in their relationships to how they function at work.One fundamental difference between the two temperaments comes down to how someone gains energy: Introverts recharge their personal batteries by spending time alone or in quieter, low-key environments, whereas extroverts are energised by the company of other people or in more stimulating environments.It’s worth noting that introversion and extroversion are personality traits that exist along a spectrum. Many people fall somewhere between the two depending on the day or setting — no one is strictly one or the other. In the workplace, people with introverted tendencies may prefer communicating in writing rather than verbally. They’d rather have an office or cubicle to themselves than work in an open floor plan. And if they have to speak in a team meeting, they generally need time to prepare beforehand — so please don’t pressure them to deliver off-the-cuff remarks. And while “innies,” as they’re sometimes called, make up anywhere from one-third to one-half of the population, managerial roles tend to be dominated by extroverts — even though many introverts possess qualities that make them strong leaders.We asked self-identified introverts in the HuffPost community to tell us what they wish their bosses understood about their personality or the way they work. Here’s what they told us: 1. Back-to-back meetings are draining for me. “Whether having an in-person or virtual meeting, I need time to decompress afterwards. Having meetings scheduled back to back is the worst!” — Alicia G. 2. Don’t take it personally if I don’t want to go to happy hour. “I am perfectly sociable at work, but please don’t ask me to do after-hours things with work people too often. I need downtime to regain my energy for the next day. Quarterly is fine. Bi-weekly is exhausting.” — Lauren T. 3. I can get way more done if I have my own workspace. “Working in an open environment is the perfect way to assure I’m not productive or comfortable in my job. Every interruption means great effort and time to regroup. Then I get grumpy because of deadlines.” — A.C. 4. I really thrive when I’m working from home. “My company started having us work from home in mid-March. It has remained so since then, and I’ve never been happier or more productive in my life. Don’t get me wrong: I really like a lot of my co-workers, but the pressure of having to be ‘on’ — convivial, chatty, and perky five days a week — has disappeared. I can still talk with those folks over our company chat when I have things to say, but I no longer have to deal with nonstop casual talk.Just because I don’t always speak up during large staff meetings doesn’t mean I don’t have great ideas.I want to keep working like this forever. I will get the Covid vaccine as soon as I qualify for it; I’m older and diabetic, so I am more susceptible to the virus than others. But when we’re all vaccinated and they want to go back to the office, that’s going to be very hard for me.” — Jennifer L.5. I can’t shine when you put me on the spot. I need time to prepare. “In a one-on-one with my boss, I said I was interested in expanding [my] leadership roles. That evening he asked me to lead a program with no time to review the material, to plan or to process. The idea of this gave me intense anxiety. After saying I would be happy to do so at a future date with more notice, I found out this was a test. I failed and was never offered a leadership position again. As an introvert, I know I have the ability to excel in leadership positions, but not when I’m blindsided.” — Victoria P.6. Ice breaker games are a nightmare for me. “Ice breaker activities cause me panic and stress. I think they are supposed to be fun but I find them dreadful.” — Jessica R. 7. I need you to moderate meetings so us introverts don’t get lost in the shuffle. “Just because an idea is expressed loudly and boisterously doesn’t make it a better one. When we introverts speak, listen! Even more, be mindful of those people who dominate meetings and intimidate others with their volume and bravado. Be a good moderator and rein those people in. Please!” — Lara B. 8. Sometimes I need to skip the small talk to conserve my energy. “When I don’t stop in the hall and chit chat with every employee in the school, I’m not being unfriendly. I’m trying to focus my energy on the teaching job I was hired for.” — Shannon S.9. I do my best work solo, one-on-one or in a small group.“It’s where we feel most comfortable and where we can let our guards down.”— Maria J.10. Getting acknowledged for my hard work is great — just not when you do it in front of the whole company.“While I really appreciate recognition, I would far prefer a note or an email directly to me, rather than an announcement in front of everyone at a work meeting.” — Katie K.11. It takes me some time to shift from one task to another. “If I’m in the middle of doing something and my boss or anyone jumps in and asks me a question, my inability to answer immediately doesn’t mean I don’t know the answer or that I’m incompetent. It just takes longer for my brain to switch gears.” — Tiffany B. 12. I have good ideas, but it’s hard for me to share them in team brainstorms. “Don’t underestimate me! Just because I don’t always speak up during large staff meetings doesn’t mean I don’t have great ideas. Providing multiple avenues to submit input gives me time to develop my thoughts and comfortable spaces to share them.” — Alicia G. 13. I generally prefer an email to a phone call. “Please don’t call me when a text or email will suffice. I will have a more complete, intelligent response to any questions or problems if I don’t have to talk to you.” — Kim T.14. When you go around the room and ask everyone to share something about themselves, I die a little inside.    “At a meeting, do not expect each person around the table to say how they are doing, what they did over holiday or what they think about the current topic of discussion. I feel the same anxiety as in grade school when the teacher called on students to read aloud one after another up and down the rows.” — Kat T.15. Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I’m disengaged. “Introverts process internally. It doesn’t mean I don’t have input, it just takes me time to quietly process before answering.” — Marcella E.16. My strengths may be less obvious but they’re no less valuable. “My bosses believe that a good teacher is a super outgoing personality. They should be loud and animated to get and sustain the students’ attention. They don’t realise that introverts are more observant and intuitive, which are valuable assets.Ice breaker activities cause me panic and stress. I think they are supposed to be fun but I find them dreadful.Sometimes to truly know your students, you need these qualities. Plus, not every student will respond well to a loud, animated teacher. An introverted teacher will notice the quiet students and look to connect with them on a level the student is comfortable with.” — Pam F. 17. I need my lunch break to decompress by myself. “While I appreciate you wanting to show your thanks by buying us food for lunch, I need my hour in the middle of the day to get away and recharge!” — Cheryl K. 18. I might turn down a leadership position — but it doesn’t mean I’m not driven.“Just because I’m really good in my current position, it doesn’t mean I have the desire to be on the leadership team. Please don’t feel bad when you offer it and I turn it down. And please, please don’t see it as a lack of dedication or ambition. I just really like being in my comfort zone and like what I’m currently doing.” — Emily B.19. I may not be the biggest personality, but I still want you to notice my contributions. “I work hard and work long hours, but I am generally overlooked. The extroverts who aren’t as dedicated get more recognition and praise because they demand to be noticed. I wish that my boss understood that a little praise or appreciation would go a long way.” — Carrie H.Responses have been lightly edited and condensed. Related... How To Tell Friends You're Hard Up – And Help A Friend Who Is 10 Foods With Misleading Health Halos To Watch Out For In 2021 How To Revamp Your Wardrobe Without Buying Anything New Also on HuffPost
UK News and Opinion - The Huffington Post...
Sweary Saturday Kitchen Host Matt Tebbutt Caught Out By Microphone In Live Gaffe
Saturday Kitchen host Matt Tebbutt was caught out by a microphone he didn’t realise was already live as he opened this weekend’s show. The TV chef was overheard swearing as he was unable to see the autocue for his first link on Saturday’s edition of the BBC cookery show. As the BBC One announcer was introducing the programme over one of the channel’s idents, Matt’s voice could be heard saying: “Bloody hell Murray, that’s miles away!” Today’s Saturday Kitchen intro gets the “Joe Wicks Award” for the mics being turned up too early. Joyous @matt_tebbutt#SaturdayKitchen@BBCOnepic.twitter.com/OfP7gXXmox— James Hoggarth (@jameshoggarth) January 16, 2021It then cut to Matt in the studio as he welcomed viewers to the show and said: “Good morning! We’re on a mission to brighten your day with some delicious company and fabulous food.”And while Matt might not have realised viewers were able to hear his previous comment, it didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter...“Bloody hell Murray that’s miles away” ?Not sure that was supposed to be aired @SaturdayKitchenpic.twitter.com/SGivEG76PO— Lisa (@LisaOrestea) January 16, 2021Well, that’s one way to open Saturday Kitchen pic.twitter.com/PtF50B52iF— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) January 16, 2021The amount of times I’ve heard that from a presenter when asked to read to the jib ? https://t.co/Y7lZHK1Q8p— Erron Gordon (@errongordon) January 16, 2021@matt_tebbutt BLOODY HELL MARIE THAT'S MILES AWAY— Oisín Rogers (@McMoop) January 16, 2021⁦Thanks for making us chuckle @matt_tebbutt⁩ "Bloody hell Marius, you're miles away" #SocialDistancing ⁦@SaturdayKitchen⁩ ⁦@EdGambleComedy⁩ #CameraManpic.twitter.com/f4jNgfQMaz— I❤MediaCityUK (@iLoveMCUK) January 16, 2021Good show today. Matt should swear more often: made it all the more entertaining.— Andrew Stevenson (@the_a_stevenson) January 16, 2021Did we all just hear @matt_tebbutt say "Bloody hell, Marius [?] that's miles away!" ? #SaturdayKitchenpic.twitter.com/J2HngnRafJ— Munching Matilda (@MunchingMatilda) January 16, 2021@matt_tebbutt@SaturdayKitchen following you after the morning drinking and Murray on the jib laughs! Keep smiling you are awesome ?— kelly buckley (@twinsrulemylife) January 16, 2021Matt later addressed his gaffe live on air, saying: “I think I need to make an apology. “At the top – if you heard – I was having a chat to our man on the jib, Murray over there, and I do apologise because I think I swore. Sorry about that!”Comedian Ed Gamble joked: “You really tried to drop Murray in that by naming him.”“Well, to be honest, me and Murray are going to have a chat later about the distance the jib is away from my eyes,” Matt laughed. Chef Tom Brown joked: “That’s what you get for being such a diva, Matt.”Of course, Matt is not the only person who has been caught out by not realising they were already live on air this week. Joe Wicks was left mortified when the camera caught him breaking wind as he prepared to introduce one of his live workouts on Monday. Saturday Kitchen Live airs on Saturdays at 10am on BBC One. READ MORE: Joe Wicks Hilariously Owns Up To Letting Off 'Longest Ripper' During Live Workout James Martin Shuts Down Comparisons Between His New Weekend Cookery Show And 'Saturday Kitchen'
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UK News and Opinion - The Huffington Post...
Sweary Saturday Kitchen Host Matt Tebbutt Caught Out By Microphone In Live Gaffe
Saturday Kitchen host Matt Tebbutt was caught out by a microphone he didn’t realise was already live as he opened this weekend’s show. The TV chef was overheard swearing as he was unable to see the autocue for his first link on Saturday’s edition of the BBC cookery show. As the BBC One announcer was introducing the programme over one of the channel’s idents, Matt’s voice could be heard saying: “Bloody hell Murray, that’s miles away!” Today’s Saturday Kitchen intro gets the “Joe Wicks Award” for the mics being turned up too early. Joyous @matt_tebbutt#SaturdayKitchen@BBCOnepic.twitter.com/OfP7gXXmox— James Hoggarth (@jameshoggarth) January 16, 2021It then cut to Matt in the studio as he welcomed viewers to the show and said: “Good morning! We’re on a mission to brighten your day with some delicious company and fabulous food.”And while Matt might not have realised viewers were able to hear his previous comment, it didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter...“Bloody hell Murray that’s miles away”
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UK News and Opinion - The Huffington Post...
Mary Trump: My Uncle ‘Enjoyed Every Second’ Of Capitol Riot
There is “no question” in Mary Trump’s mind that her uncle, Donald Trump, wanted his mob of supporters to storm the US Capitol last week.“One, he enjoyed every second of it,” Mary Trump told Sirius XM Radio show host Dean Obeidallah on Friday. “He is a physical coward but he’s perfectly happy when other people commit violence on his behalf.”“Secondly, again, he really thought that that was a way to change the results of the legitimate election,” added Mary Trump, a psychologist who last year penned a damning memoir about the president and has been one of his harshest critics ever since.Watch the video here:Mary Trump’s take on her uncle’s state of mind during the violence that left five people dead squares with that of Republican senator Ben Sasse who has cited White House aides describing Trump as “delighted” when the Capitol was overrun.At a rally before the riot, Trump had told his supporters that he’d join them to the Capitol. Instead, he returned to the White House and watched the insurrection, for which he was on Wednesday impeached by the House for inciting, unfurl on television.The president “was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as... rioters [pushed] against Capitol police, trying to get into the building,” said Sasse. “That was happening. He was delighted.”Related... I've Experienced US Capitol Security Firsthand — And It Was Nothing Like The Rioters Saw Trump Gets A Painful Reminder Of His Loss To Biden Right Outside His Window Secret Service Agents Were Barred From Using Ivanka Trump’s Toilet
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UK News and Opinion - The Huffington Post...
This Is The UK's Path Out Of Covid Hell – And How Long It Will Take
If there’s one thing we all want to know right now, it’s when this whole pandemic thing will be over.The situation facing the UK is dire – sky-high infection rates, hospitals buckling under pressure and over 1,500 deaths in a single day this week.But there is good news – infection rates are slowing, effective treatments are keeping people alive and a respectable three million people have been vaccinated already.So let’s look ahead at our path out of all this...What’s the government’s plan?Good question, and not one with a definite answer.Last month Matt Hancock sounded pretty optimistic – we roll out the vaccine and life begins to return to normal by spring. His actual words were: “The NHS stands ready to deploy at the sort of pace that is needed to help us get out of this pandemic by the spring.”Oh lovely, so back to normal in a couple of months?Ugh, no. Since making that chirpy assessment last month, Hancock has not mentioned spring since. Even at the time, he studiously avoided defining just exactly when spring was.Matt Hancock told @LBC the Oxford vaccine news means we can start to get to normal by Spring.Although he wouldn't/ couldn't say what 'Spring' meant when asked for a specific date— Rachael Venables (@rachaelvenables) December 30, 2020Hmm, OK. What about ‘getting out of this pandemic’? Again, Hancock has been a bit wishy-washy.While touting the vaccination programme this week, Hancock said: “Our UK Covid-19 vaccines delivery plan maps our route back to normality.“The next few months will present a significant opportunity to turn the tide of battle against Covid – I am looking forward to watching these plans bring more reassurance and hope back to people’s lives after a difficult year.”Which, again, is a bit on the vague side.So what are we aiming for?We asked the Department of Health and Social Care what Hancock meant when he said “out of this pandemic by the spring”, and if he still stood by the statement.A spokesperson replied: ”Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and will help us return to a more normal way of life. We now have three approved vaccines and are rapidly rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in UK history.“Through the UK vaccine delivery plan we aim to have vaccinated all care home residents by the end of January and by mid-February we will have offered a first vaccine dose to priority groups 1 to 4.“The full impact on infection rates will not become clear until a large number of people have been vaccinated, but as larger numbers do get vaccinated, we will get back to a more normal way of life.”There are three key points to take from this. According to the government:Vaccines are the key to getting out of the pandemicBy mid-February, 15m of the most vulnerable will have been offered (not necessarily given, it should be noted) a vaccineThe full impact of the vaccination programme won’t be known until an unspecified “large number” of people have been given the vaccineThank God for those vaccines, right?Yes. And no.The government is pushing the “vaccines are our way out of this pandemic” line hard.I'm delighted that 3 MILLION vaccines have now been administeredWe're accelerating the COVID vaccine roll-out across the UK ?? pic.twitter.com/zXSUOUaS8B— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) January 14, 2021It’s not surprising given how much of a miracle their speedy development has been – but actual scientists are concerned about the government’s messaging around them. “You can’t just vaccinate your way out of this,” Dr Stephen Griffin, associate professor at the Leeds Institute of Medical Research, tells HuffPost UK.“It’s great news that we have these vaccines but they can’t just be seen as a way out on their own. They have to be coordinated with suppression and maintaining our borders.”Dr Griffin’s concern is that other efforts to combat coronavirus such as the embattled Test and Trace system have fallen by the wayside over recent months and even more so now the focus is on vaccination. And he’s not alone.Public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally told HuffPost UK: “There is a concern that the enthusiasm from the PM and ministers for vaccination will be very dangerous in a sense, because during the course of the pandemic they’ve continually looked for the silver bullet.“We’ve gone through several of these – antibody tests, the Test and Trace app – and they seem to be completely unable to understand that what you need is a whole spectrum of measures that do include social distancing and restrictions.”This week Labour MP and mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham also echoed these views. It feels like Government/media have given up on Test, Trace & Isolate.All hopes are pinned on vaccination.This is dangerous.Even if vaccination goes well, we’ll need functioning Test & Trace to manage our exit route from restrictions.Time to get eyes back on this ball. https://t.co/iCVfq9aXIr— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) January 14, 2021Why won’t vaccines alone get us out of the pandemic? In short, mutant strains.“The biggest worry is that we’ll find a variant along the way which will significantly decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine,” says Dr Griffin.We already have various strains of Covid-19, one of which is currently rampaging around the UK. Others have been identified as originating in South Africa and Brazil.As yet there is no evidence that these will be more resilient or resistant to the vaccines that have been developed, but there is nothing to say this won’t change.Viruses are live organisms and as such have the main principal drive that we humans do – to survive. Variations occur all the time and the ones that thrive are those that are more infectious and less deadly as they survive in the bodies of more and more people.There are two major factors that increase the likelihood of a virus mutating. First is how much there is circulating in the population. The more virus about, the more chance some of it will mutate.The second can be thought of as barriers to infecting people, which place more pressure on the virus to adapt to survive.Unfortunately, vaccination can act as such a barrier.“The danger is if you give a sub-standard vaccination programme or you don’t cover as much of the population as you want, you’re going to leave that virus enough wiggle room to change and adapt and we may end up with a very long-lasting scenario where we’re having to adapt vaccines continuously,” says Dr Scally.How do we prevent that?It’s impossible to stop mutations entirely. The best thing we can do is stop the spread of infection as much as possible while the vaccination programme is rolled out.Unfortunately, this means a continuation of social distancing and restrictions.“We still need to lock down and to suppress the virus because vaccinating amid the ongoing pandemic is going to be very difficult indeed,” says Dr Griffin.“My personal view is that we need to push for elimination and that can’t just happen with a vaccine. We need to crush cases again, we need to make good on this lockdown because we didn’t with the last two.“In terms of getting back to normal, I can’t see restrictions being lifted completely before the end of this year at all. I’d be really surprised.”Don’t despair too much, this is unlikely to mean the current full lockdown will last until 2022.But we will more than likely have to get used to a gradual easing of restrictions over a period of months, rather than expecting to look forward to a magical day when everything is suddenly normal again.Professor Neil Ferguson, who is director of the Medical Research Council’s Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London, said week that after lockdown lifts, some social distancing measures will still be required, in large part due to the new strains of the virus.“The new variant without doubt will make the relaxation of restrictions more difficult because it is substantially more transmissible,” he said.“So it will be a gradual process to the autumn.”How long will it take to vaccinate everyone?The government hopes to be able to vaccinate two million people a week by the end of January and that every adult will be offered a vaccine “by the autumn”.With three vaccines now approved, the biggest stumbling block is manufacturing enough doses.“It is a challenge but is probably realistic in terms of manufacturing enough vaccine to do that,” Dr Stephen Morris, research fellow in vaccine process analytics at University College London, tells HuffPost UK.“It’s an advantage that they’re all using different technologies so they’re not competing for the same reagents and other supplies of materials.“There will also be a challenge as more countries authorise the vaccines as deliveries will be spread across more countries.”The UK does have an ace up its sleeve – the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre that is currently being built in Harwell.“This has been on the cards for a while and was originally planned to open next year,” says Dr Morris.“It was designed as a platform for the likes of myself to test out new manufacturing technologies so it’s designed to be very flexible but now it’s been repurposed to some degree. “That in theory will have enough manufacturing capacity to produce enough vaccine for the UK.”That sounds positive, but what if a vaccine-resistant strain pops up?It’s not the end of the world. The government has said a new coronavirus jab could be manufactured within just 30 to 40 days.Nadhim Zahawi, vaccine development minister, told the Commons science and technology committee that measures had been put in place to produce the “next iteration” of jabs if needed. When will we know that we’re out of the pandemic?Again, the government hasn’t defined this – but there’s no reason not to aim for the elimination of Covid as the marker of things being over.“This doesn’t mean you see no virus whatsoever,” says Dr Griffin.“It means very low levels of transmission, small outbreaks that are managed because most of us have had the vaccine and we have testing and tracing.“You can see by the way paved by Australia, for example. It’s possible to eliminate this virus from our shores. We’re an island.”Vaccination alone won’t achieve this and a functioning Test and Trace system and public health controls at ports and airports will be crucial – both things the government has so far failed to achieve.“We’ve had an un-policed and voluntary self-isolation policy but it’s about as much use as a sieve in a rainstorm,” says Dr Scally.“We need to do three things – get the virus down, keep it down and keep it out.”Could we have gotten out of the pandemic sooner?Depressingly, yes.As politically unpopular as it would have been, there’s a strong case to be made that if the UK had been kept under lockdown over last summer then we could have kept the virus under control.“We crushed the spread of cases during the first lockdown and got the R rate down, and the epidemic was squashed but then they started to unlock,” says Dr Griffin.What’s the bottom line, then?If everything goes to plan with the vaccination program, life could begin to return to normal in autumn – but it’s unlikely we’ll see a full lifting of social distancing and restrictions until after this, possibly until the end of the year.Related... This Is Why How Much Covid-19 You're Exposed To Matters Revealed: The Hotspots For Covid Rule-Breaking In England And Wales
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This Is The UK's Path Out Of Covid Hell – And How Long It Will Take
It’s the one thing we all want to know right now, it’s when this whole pandemic thing will be over.The situation facing the UK is dire – sky-high infection rates, hospitals buckling under pressure and over 1,500 deaths in a single day this week.But there is good news – infection rates are slowing, effective treatments are keeping people alive and a respectable three million people have been vaccinated already.So let’s look ahead at our path out of all this...What’s the government’s plan?Good question, and not one with a definite answer.Last month Matt Hancock sounded pretty optimistic – we roll out the vaccine and life begins to return to normal by spring. His actual words were: “The NHS stands ready to deploy at the sort of pace that is needed to help us get out of this pandemic by the spring.”Oh lovely, so back to normal in a couple of months?Ugh, no. Since making that chirpy assessment last month, Hancock has not mentioned spring since. Even at the time, he studiously avoided defining just exactly when spring was.Matt Hancock told @LBC the Oxford vaccine news means we can start to get to normal by Spring.Although he wouldn't/ couldn't say what 'Spring' meant when asked for a specific date— Rachael Venables (@rachaelvenables) December 30, 2020Hmm, OK. What about ‘getting out of this pandemic’? Again, Hancock has been a bit wishy-washy.While touting the vaccination programme this week, Hancock said: “Our UK Covid-19 vaccines delivery plan maps our route back to normality.“The next few months will present a significant opportunity to turn the tide of battle against Covid – I am looking forward to watching these plans bring more reassurance and hope back to people’s lives after a difficult year.”Which, again, is a bit on the vague side.So what are we aiming for?We asked the Department of Health and Social Care what Hancock meant when he said “out of this pandemic by the spring”, and if he still stood by the statement.A spokesperson replied: ”Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic and will help us return to a more normal way of life. We now have three approved vaccines and are rapidly rolling out the biggest vaccination programme in UK history.“Through the UK vaccine delivery plan we aim to have vaccinated all care home residents by the end of January and by mid-February we will have offered a first vaccine dose to priority groups 1 to 4.“The full impact on infection rates will not become clear until a large number of people have been vaccinated, but as larger numbers do get vaccinated, we will get back to a more normal way of life.”There are three key points to take from this. According to the government:Vaccines are the key to getting out of the pandemicBy mid-February, 15m of the most vulnerable will have been offered (not necessarily given, it should be noted) a vaccineThe full impact of the vaccination programme won’t be known until an unspecified “large number” of people have been given the vaccineThank God for those vaccines, right?Yes. And no.The government is pushing the “vaccines are our way out of this pandemic” line hard.I'm delighted that 3 MILLION vaccines have now been administeredWe're accelerating the COVID vaccine roll-out across the UK
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