AP PHOTOS: UK displays on loss of life toll a 12 months after lockdown
LONDON – The UK has lots to consider.
The UK has recorded more than 126,000 virus-related deaths, the highest number of deaths from a pandemic in Europe and the fifth in the world.
Britain is expected to observe a minute’s silence at noon on Tuesday. Residents are also encouraged to stand at their doorstep at 8 p.m. with phones, candles and flashlights to signify a “lighthouse of remembrance.”
London’s skyline will turn yellow when landmarks such as the London Eye, Trafalgar Square and Wembley Stadium light up after dark. Other notable buildings that will be illuminated include Cardiff Castle and Belfast Town Hall. Churches and cathedrals plan to ring bells, light thousands of candles and offer prayers.
“Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown, is a time to reflect on the past year – one of the most difficult in our country’s history,” Johnson said. “We must also remember the great spirit manifested by our nation during this past year.”
Few foresaw the scale of death and grief to come when Johnson, in a prime-time televised speech on March 23, 2020, issued an ‘instruction’ for the British people to stay at home.
Johnson, who within days of the stay-at-home order was issued tested positive for the virus and eventually ended up in intensive care at a London hospital, has been criticized for delaying the first lockdown. Italy was the first European country to be locked down earlier in March 2020, followed by Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic and Portugal. France, Belgium and most of the continent.
This delay, many say, led the UK to record the most deaths in Europe in the first wave of the pandemic, despite the valiant efforts of those working at the National Health Service, which has undoubtedly made it through its period. most difficult since its inception in the country. after the Second World War.
Further delays in reimposing lockdowns nationwide following the easing of restrictions over the summer and fall have also been blamed for exacerbating the high number of coronavirus deaths in Britain, especially this year, when a new, more contagious variant of the virus first identified in south-east England became dominant. strain.
Calls are increasing, especially among bereaved families, for the government to support a public inquiry into its handling of the pandemic. Johnson said one would come but it would be a distraction now.
Beyond the devastating death toll, the pandemic has severely affected all aspects of daily life. The children spent many months locked away at home with their often restless parents and siblings who also struggled to cope with the realities of life in lockdown.
The pandemic has also hit the UK economy, which has suffered its worst recession in more than 300 years. Pubs, restaurants, theaters, hairdressers and all non-essential shops in England have been closed since early November, with the exception of 2.5 weeks between closings.
Despite recovering some of its lost production, the economy remains around 10% smaller than it was just over a year ago. There are fears that many businesses, especially those serving the public, may not survive for long once the government begins to withdraw its unprecedented financial support.
There is some hope that the rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines – more than half of the adult population has already received one of the two doses they need – will herald a lockdown period in the coming weeks. Johnson insists his government’s plan to lift restrictions in England will be guided by “data, not dates,” but that life could be much more normal in the height of summer. The rest of the UK – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – have presented similar plans.
But confirmed cases are on the rise again across much of Europe, and Johnson has said Britain is likely to face another wave of the pandemic as well.
“We have learned from previous experience that when a wave hits our friends, it also hits our shores,” he said on Monday.
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