Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in UK maintaining COVID-19 restrictions as of July 21; Leicester lockdown ongoing until at least July 24.

  • Alert Begins: 21 Jul 2020 10:51 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 03 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Ongoing business and travel disruptions

Summary
A lockdown in Leicester is due to ease from July 24 after a reported drop in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections; authorities relaxed measures in areas outside of Leicester City and the boroughs of Oadby and Wigston July 18. Residents in areas still under lockdown are being urged to stay home as much as possible; nonessential stores and schools are closed. In addition, only essential travel to and from affected areas is permitted. Authorities elsewhere in England plan to further ease restrictions July 25 by reopening fitness centers and swimming pools.

Authorities lifted a mandatory quarantine requirement for arrivals from 75 countries and overseas territories, including Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and Spain; the selected countries are assessed to pose a reduced threat from COVID-19. Scotland currently retains a quarantine requirement for arrivals from Spain, though authorities there announced July 20 that this measure will be lifted in the coming days. In addition, the Isle of Man lifted entry restrictions for residents only, July 20. All international arrivals to the UK must provide contact details, as well as their travel history over the previous 14 days.

International arrivals of any nationality arriving from nonexempt locations are required to self-isolate for 14 days; health officials may perform spot checks to ensure compliance. Persons without suitable accommodation will be required to stay in facilities arranged by the government at their own expense. The measures apply to arrival by air, rail, and ferry. Freight drivers and healthcare workers are exempt from the requirement. The measures are reviewed every three weeks.

The government mandates minimum social distancing of 1 meter (3.2 feet) for people from different households under most circumstances, though it recommends that people maintain a 2-meter (6.5-foot) distance where possible; precise COVID-19 restrictions vary between the constituent parts of the UK. Scotland and Wales mandate 2-meter (6.5-foot) social distancing. Protective face coverings remain mandatory on public transport nationwide and inside shops in Scotland. Authorities continue to recommend citizens work from home where possible.

Most nonessential businesses around the UK have reopened, though must adhere to strict hygiene practices, including limits on the number of customers in stores in order to maintain social distancing and the encouragement of customers using hand sanitizer when entering the premises. Retail workers must practice social distancing wherever possible.

International flights remain limited, but cargo and repatriation services have continued. Public transport authorities nationwide are currently operating.

All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews and may receive updates or extensions in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to specific urban centers, neighborhoods, or even specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary "self-policing" by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, likely negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

The UK's Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) is a newly formed agency tasked with analyzing disease activity in England and setting the "COVID-19 Alert Level," a five-tier system that will inform the government's decisions on easing and reintroducing restrictions. The JBC can set different alert levels for different parts of the country, creating the possibility for varying restrictions based on locality in the future.

The measures implemented by the UK are similar to actions taken by other European governments in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Arrive at the airport early to prevent your seat from being reallocated to a standby passenger. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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