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England to remain under strict measures after lockdown

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The vast majority of England’s 56 million inhabitants, particularly in London, will continue to live under strict restrictions after the end of containment in early December, the British government announced Thursday, detailing its local strategy against the pandemic.

After a month of general lockdown ending on 2 December, England will return to locally imposed restrictions based on the incidence of the virus, according to a three-tier severity system.

National measures have successfully reversed the epidemic’s curve, Health Minister Matt Hancock told MPs, with a drop in the number of infections and hospitalisations.

“I understand the impact that these measures will have, but they are necessary given the scale of the threat that we face,” he stressed, pointing out that local restrictions will be stricter than those in place before the lockdown in order to keep the virus under control.

Across England, non-essential shops will be able to reopen and schools will remain open. Teleworking is recommended in all cases.

In areas on the highest alert level, such as Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol and Leeds, pubs and restaurants will remain closed, with only take-away and delivery services available. It will be forbidden to meet people from outside the home, both indoors and outdoors, with exceptions such as in parks.

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In London, as in most of England, the risk is considered “high” (level 2): pubs and restaurants can only open if they serve meals, and meetings between different households are limited to six people outdoors, but not indoors.

Only three areas have been placed in the lowest “medium” alert level: Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly.

This classification will be the subject of an initial assessment on 16 December.

Populations living in the areas with the highest restrictions will be offered large-scale screening, with rapid tests providing results within an hour.

Earlier this week, the government announced Christmas-time relaxations, allowing a maximum of three households to gather for five days, from 23 to 27 December.

The United Kingdom, where each region defines its own health strategy, is the most affected country in Europe with more than 56,500 deaths and 1.5 million positive cases.

The Brussels Times