"Freedom Day" in the UK: joy and fear

In the UK, almost all coronavirus restrictions will be lifted today, Monday, which the media have therefore dubbed "Freedom Day". Prime Minister Boris Johnson is counting on the citizens' sense of responsibility - against the advice of many experts, who point to the recent surge in infections, especially among young people. Is the government acting irresponsibly or is this a far-sighted approach?

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

The wrong rules repealed

For Handelsblatt's London correspondent Carsten Volkery, lifting most measures but leaving the quarantine obligation in place lacks any logic:

“Unlike the mask requirement, this measure has a serious impact on the economy. The Delta wave means hundreds of thousands of workers having to go into quarantine and be off work for weeks. The first companies are being forced to restrict their production or opening hours. ... Instead of leaving the quarantine in place it would have been better to keep the mask requirement and the nightclubs closed. Then at least the easing would have had clear economic benefits. As things stand now, Johnson must accept the accusation of having repealed the wrong rules.”

The Sun (GB) /

Pointless isolation rules

The Sun also finds the quarantine regulation nonsensical:

“So if the staff of the National Grid get pinged by the app they can test negative and keep working. Presumably Covid knows how critical their role is and agrees not to spread through them. Meanwhile double-jabbed frontline staff at the NHS, surely the place you're most likely to encounter an infected person, will also dodge isolation. ... Your risk of spreading Covid doesn't diminish depending how important your job is. If it's negligible enough to let some key workers keep calm and carry on, it should be the same for all.”

Sabah (TR) /

A welcome pilot project

The pro-government daily Sabah says Turkey should keep a close eye on the developments in Britain:

“In January, one in 10 people with Covid-19 had to be hospitalised and one in 60 people died. Today, the risk of hospitalisation has shrunk to just one in 40 to 50. The risk of dying is 1 in 1,000. The British government has gone back to its plan of a 'controlled spread of the virus' which did not work at the beginning of the pandemic. So we now have a major pilot project country. ... If Britain succeeds, so can we. But first we need to increase the vaccination rate. Those who don't get vaccinated even though it's their turn must be convinced.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Bold and sensible

Columnist Allison Pearson welcomes the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in The Daily Telegraph:

“By now, it should be apparent to everyone, apart from the boffins of Sage, that restrictions are often counter-productive. Yet, a return to normal life is constantly presented as risky instead of healthy and desirable. ... It's those who are trying to postpone normal life indefinitely who are the selfish and irresponsible ones. I reckon that it's our patriotic duty to live as freely and boldly as we can. Ironically, that's what it will take to keep people safe.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

This is how you manage a crisis

The early lifting of lockdown measures is the reward for the UK's resolute action against the pandemic, says Le Figaro:

“Granted, it took the eccentric prime minister himself landing in intensive care for him to take this enemy seriously. But immediately afterwards he set up a war cabinet. It supported Oxford University in the race for a vaccine, commissioned a commando from the private sector to buy the vaccine doses and Her Majesty's army to take care of vaccination logistics. ... France suspended the use of AstraZeneca in March, fuelling doubts about a measure it now wants to make compulsory. England, meanwhile, plunged into a national epic that opened with the vaccination of the octogenarian William Shakespeare (you can't make something like that up) and closed with a standing ovation for researcher Sarah Gilbert at Wimbledon.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Early easing backfired elsewhere

The Financial Times fears that London's easing policy will have dramatic consequences:

“Israel and the Netherlands reimposed restrictions after taking the same premature path to freedom. Mass infection risks swamping hospitals, decimating workforces, sickening the young and weak, and creating vaccine-resistant variants - all of which could lead to further lockdowns and, ultimately, less freedom. This is not learning to live with Covid-19 but caving in to it.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Success in danger

Der Tagesspiegel isn't convinced by Johnson's strategy of relying exclusively on people acting responsibly:

“If the pandemic has shown one thing - both during the lockdowns and now when the coronavirus variants have made more people want to be vaccinated - it's that many people need to join the efforts for them to work. In more intact societies with a higher level of trust, this can be done by relying on personal responsibility. But the more divided a society is politically and economically, the more governments have to campaign, offer, and set rules. Britain's recent history does not suggest that Johnson's terse 'get that jab' will be enough to protect citizens. It's quite possible that the country will once again toss its successes to the wind.”