A spokesman for Johnson said on Friday, however, that changes to the financial aid are being considered, but there should be no general cash candy because that could create “perverse incentives”. It would increase quarantine payments (previously only available to benefit recipients) twelve-fold to up to £ 453 million (€ 508 million) per week.
The future of the exit restrictions that have been running for weeks, including the closure of non-essential shops, remains unclear for the time being. Johnson plans to review the lockdown in mid-February, but stressed that it was “too early to say when it will be relaxed”. When asked, he refused to rule out a lockdown after Easter, although some conservative parliamentarians are urging him to relax from the beginning of March – after the most vulnerable groups have been vaccinated. However, some experts warn against early changes before May, as the number of new infections is still high despite lockdowns – due to the more contagious virus variant discovered in the country. The number of deaths has peaked this week, the na-
national health system remains heavily burdened. Thursday’s numbers show nearly 38,000 new infections, 1,290 deaths, and a seven-day incidence of 450.
According to data from Friday afternoon, every 55th person tested positive in England in the week to 16 January – that is an improvement on the previous week when it was every 50th. And the reproduction number R in Great Britain is likely to be at or just below 1 for the first time since December, according to experts.