Demands for the UK to end all remaining lockdown restrictions are growing after public health officials for the first time since the start of the pandemic recorded zero deaths for the past day.
That's the first time since March 7 of last year that nobody died in the UK from COVID-19 in a 24-hour period.
Business groups have lead the charge pushing for an earlier reopening, but British PM Boris Johnson says he won't make a decision on ending the lockdown until he has been fully briefed on the risks of the Indian COVID-19 variant that's been spreading rapidly in the UK.
UK Hospitality, which represents about 85,000 venues, said jobs will be lost if there’s a delay to the end of lockdown measures, while survey data from the Night Time Industries Association suggests the future of nine in 10 nightlife businesses is threatened after more than a year of enforced closures.
Prevalence of the newly-renamed Delta strain is the only obstacle that could delay UK's plans for unlocking. It has spread across the UK and the number of daily COVID cases has ticked upwards in the past two weeks, raising concerns about whether a second summer could be lost for the British tourism industry.
Already, adding pressure on PM Johnson was the decision by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to postpone Scotland's June 7 relaxation of its restrictions across a swathe of the region including Edinburgh. Sturgeon cited an increase in the number of cases of the variant first detected in India as reason for the extension.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged caution in response to the fall in daily deaths.
"Despite this undoubtedly good news we know we haven’t beaten this virus yet," he said in an emailed statement. "And with cases continuing to rise please remember hands, face, space and let in fresh air when indoors, and of course, make sure when you can you get both jabs."
However, despite the milestone in fatalities, some of the "experts" are launching a fresh fearmongering campaign. They're pointing to the spread of an Indian variant, along with a recent jump in hospitalizations, as signs that the British lockdown, which has already been unwound to a substantial degree and is on the cusp of being dismissed completely. They're arguing that these are signs that another vicious surge could seize England and the UK if the public isn't careful.
A top adviser to the British government, Professor Adam Finn, from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, says he's concerned about England unlocking too early (the government is slated to end restrictions on June 21, when all legal limits will be removed). However, the public clearly doesn't want to hear this, since he's already complaining about being repeatedly told to "shut up". The government scientist said he was repeatedly "told to shut up" by people who don't want to hear his warnings.
For better or worse, promoters of keeping restrictions in place as a precaution against the variants just got a boost from the WHO, which is changing up how it names the variants to remove some of the stigma associated with discovering them (since they're often named after where they were discovered) but also to make it easier for the media to discuss them.
But with the US and UK both leading the world in vaccinations, it's worth wondering: does anybody really believe these warnings?