Coronavirus Update - 2nd April 2021
This week saw a substantial easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions across the country, with Monday 29th March dubbed ‘Happy Monday’.
On Monday rules eased in England to allow groups of up to six or two households to meet up outside and outdoor sports facilities were reopened, allowing people to play tennis, golf, or to go for a swim once again.
The official 'stay at home' order also came to an end but people are still encouraged to 'stay local'.
In Scotland, the stay at home order was dropped on Friday but as in England, people are still advised to stay local - in Scotland this advice is mandated with travel restrictions that prevent non-essential travel outside local authority areas legislated in law.
These rules are expected to remain in place across Scotland for at least another three weeks. On Monday 5 April, Scots will enjoy more easing of current lockdown rules, with click and collect services allowed to reopen as well as homeware shops and garden centres.
Some university and college students will be allowed to return for in-person teaching and outdoor contact sport will resume for 12-17 year olds.
The easing of restrictions has come as the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that cases had stopped falling in Scotland and were now plateauing, prompting her to tweet:
In Europe, the slow vaccination drive continues, with Dr Hans Kluge - the WHO’s European regional director - deeming it 'unacceptably slow'.
He also said that the situation in most European countries is 'more worrying than we have seen in several months' with new cases of the virus in Europe surging from fewer than 1 million a week last month to about 1.6 million a week this week.
On Wednesday, France announced tougher nationwide restrictions that will see schools shut for the next three weeks and in Italy, current restrictions were extended until the end of the month.
Across the WHO’s European region, which is made up of 53 countries, only 10% of people have received one dose of a vaccine and only 4% have been fully vaccinated.
Europe’s vaccine roll-out has been hampered by concerns about the safety of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. France, Spain and Germany have all imposed age-restrictions on the vaccine because of fears about possible blood-clotting caused by the vaccines.
This is despite the European Medicines Agency saying that a review had found no link between the rare reports of blood clotting and the vaccine.
All of this raises questions about the possibility of foreign travel this summer for vaccinated Brits. Currently non-essential foreign travel is banned until at least 17 May but with rising cases in Europe and fears about the effect an imported mutation of the virus might have on the UK’s vaccine roll out, it remains to be seen whether or not international travel will be on the cards this summer.