Petition After the vaccine roll-out to high risk groups, remove ALL covid-19 restrictions
As soon as all vulnerable members of the population (the elderly and those with certain underlying health conditions) have been protected through vaccination, all covid restrictions should be swiftly removed.
The coronavirus measures imposed on the population in 2020 have caused huge damage to the economy and to quality of life, and represent a severe infringement on personal liberty.
Removal of these measures should not be delayed until everyone has been vaccinated. The majority of the population (the healthy young and middle-aged) are not at serious risk from covid.
Life will never be risk free - we need a balance!
This response was given on 17 February 2021
The Government will not keep the restrictions in place any longer than necessary and continues to keep them under review. We will publish our roadmap on 22nd February to set out our future approach.
We are now at a critical stage of this pandemic. The demand on our NHS has reached unprecedented levels. And sadly, on Tuesday 26th January, we reached a sobering and tragic moment in this pandemic, with over 100,000 people having lost their lives to this disease.
Effective vaccines will be the best way to protect the most vulnerable from coronavirus and the biggest breakthrough since the pandemic began. Thanks to the incredible efforts of the NHS, medical professionals and volunteers across the country, we are making huge strides in vaccinating the most vulnerable, with over 12.6 million people in the UK now vaccinated, and vaccinations are now being offered to everyone above the age of 70. We are on track to offer a vaccine to all those in the JCVI top four priority cohorts by mid-February.
While we have made excellent progress, it will likely take until Spring to offer the first dose of vaccination to the priority groups recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, with estimated cover of around 27 million people in England and 32 million people across the United Kingdom.
In addition, there is currently limited evidence to support the use of COVID-19 vaccines to interrupt transmission during outbreaks. While Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines provide protection to a vaccinated person from serious disease, we do not yet know if they prevent them from passing on the virus to others. The full impact on transmission will not become clear until a large number of people have been vaccinated, but as larger numbers do get vaccinated, we will hopefully move further along the path back to a more normal way of life. We will continue to closely monitor the impact of vaccinations on individuals, on NHS pressures and on the spread of the virus.
It remains imperative we do everything in our power to protect the progress of our vaccination programme – and that includes protecting against the danger of new variants. We must get rates down to protect against new, ‘home grown’ variants, and we must also strengthen even further the measures at our borders - requiring any UK nationals and residents returning from those countries from which entry to the UK is currently banned where there is a risk of known variants, to isolate in government-provided accommodation for 10 days.
The current evidence continues to show that both the vaccines we are administering remain effective against the new variant that was first identified in London and the South East as a result of our world-leading capability in genomic sequencing. As the Health Secretary announced, our New Variant Assessment Platform will work with the World Health Organisation to offer our expertise to help other countries.
It is essential that everyone continues to stay at home if possible, whether they have had the vaccine or not. This means it is important to continue to follow social distancing guidance (which can be found here: Social distancing: what you need to do - Coronavirus (COVID-19) - NHS (www.nhs.uk))
We will not keep these restrictions for a day longer than is necessary, but nor can we relax them too soon. If we do, we run the risk of our NHS coming under still greater pressure, compelling us to re-impose every restriction and sustain them for even longer. We do not yet have enough data to know exactly how soon it will be safe to reopen our society and economy. But the overall picture should be clearer by mid-February: by then, we will know much more about the effect of vaccines in preventing hospitalisations and deaths, using data from the UK but also other nations. We intend to publish our plan for taking the country out of lockdown in the last week of February. That plan will, of course, depend on the continued success of our vaccination programme, and on deaths falling at the pace we would expect as more people are inoculated.
Our aim will be to set out a gradual and phased approach towards easing restrictions in a sustainable way, beginning with the most important principle of all: that reopening schools must be our national priority. In the meantime, to save lives and protect the NHS, we must continue to follow the rules and stay at home. If we do not, we will see case rates and deaths increase again, jeopardise all progress we have made in the past few weeks, and make it more likely that the current restrictions will stay in place for longer.
Department of Health and Social Care
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