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Johnson Isolates as England Prepares to Dance

Scientists worry that pandemic restrictions are ending too soon
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2021 2:00 PM CDT
Johnson to Miss Party as England Drops Restrictions
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a speech Thursday in Coventry, England. Johnson is beginning 10 days of self-isolation.   (David Rose/Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided to self-isolate after a meeting with an infected person, just as the rest of England prepares for the end of coronavirus restrictions —and the return of dancing in nightclubs, even. Johnson will keep to himself for 10 days, the Wall Street Journal reports, after the nation's health minister, Sajid Javid, tested positive despite being fully vaccinated. Johnson was contacted by the National Health Service, per the Washington Post; the rule requiring self-isolation if requested by health teams is one of the few pandemic restrictions that will remain after Sunday. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak will be quarantined for the same reason. For most everyone else, face masks and social distancing will no longer be required. Attendance limits for theaters and large events also are expiring.

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The Freedom Day parties begin with a countdown to midnight, then confetti, then all-night dancing in nightclubs around England, per the AP. "I think it is going to be the most magical moment," said an employee of a London nightclub, "when you've got people who haven't been able to dance and sing and just be normal, all rush onto the floor at midnight and get back to what we love." There's concern that the party is beginning too soon; one newspaper headline called it "Freedumb Day." More than 54,000 new infections were reported Saturday, the most in a day since January. More than 1,000 scientists signed on to a letter to The Lancet opposing the end of restrictions. "I can't think of any realistic good scenario to come out of this strategy, I'm afraid," an English clinical virologist said. "I think it’s really a degree of how bad it’s going to be." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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