It is clear from the evidence that vaccines are even more effective than we had first hoped. It is increasingly obvious that the link between cases, hospitalisations, and deaths has been broken. Short of any unforeseen changes, the Government is confident that 19th July will mark the end of over a year of restrictions on our daily lives. This has been a long time coming and the delayed reopening on 21st June has allowed many more people to receive their first and second doses, increasing the immunity we have in the population.
It is inevitable that cases will tick up as restrictions are relaxed, but we are now at the stage of the pandemic where we can be confident that this will not lead to the NHS being overwhelmed. It is important we now prepare to live with Covid as a recurring disease in the same way as we prepare for influenza each year. They are very different diseases, but we will be able to manage them in a similar way. It is logical that case numbers no longer drive policy as instead we seek to minimise death serious illness. Whereas in previously we had to be conscious of the growth of the virus leading to the NHS being overwhelmed, we can now plan more effectively as the vaccine programme has created a significant level of public immunity. Cases will increase as we relax restrictions but the best time to do this is in the summer, avoiding a spike in the challenging winter months.
The system of isolation now means that many vaccinated healthy adults and children are still being asked to isolate under rules that applied before we had the protection of the vaccine. It has caused huge disruption to schooling, workplaces and the economy, and it is crucial that we liberalise the rules so that we can resume our lives. It makes no sense to keep restrictions on those who have had a jab, and it reduces the incentive to do so. It is entirely understandable that some people will feel anxious and others will not yet have been double jabbed. It is important to remember why we consented to relinquish our freedoms - to save lives and protect the NHS. As we can now meet those objectives, it is time to get back to living our lives without restrictions.