Jul 19, 2021 - World

Rising cases cloud England's coronavirus "freedom day"

People walking in London without face masks on July 19.

People walking in London without face masks on July 19. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Rising new cases and Prime Minister Boris Johnson's journey back into quarantine dampened England's "freedom day" on Monday, when the country lifted most of its remaining coronavirus-related restrictions.

Why it matters: Face masks and capacity limits are no longer allowed in England, freeing up people to attend large events again, though scientists have warned that it could be dangerous to fully reopen when infections are increasing, according to AP.

  • But those concerns didn't stop thousands of people from flooding to nightclubs and other events early Monday morning.

By the numbers: The United Kingdom reported more than 47,000 new cases on Sunday and over 54,000 on Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

  • Yes, but: Hospitalizations and deaths from the virus are far below their peaks in January, and close to 40 million people in the U.K. have been fully vaccinated against the virus as of Saturday.

What they're saying: Johnson, who reluctantly went into isolation after being exposed to COVID-19 through Health Secretary Sajid Javid, asked for “prudence and respect for other people and the risks that the disease continues to present" in a Twitter video on Monday.

  • More than 1,200 scientists signed a letter criticizing the government's decision to reopen as "the third wave of the pandemic takes hold across England," warning that it increases the risk of a vaccine-resistant variants developing.

The big picture: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not fully reopened and are taking a more cautious approach, according to NBC News.

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