Monday is Freedom Day in England. The day has received the moniker because all social restrictions, like mask wearing and maintaining social distancing, that have been imposed to fight against COVID-19 have been lifted.
The reversal of the restrictions happens amid a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations in England, largely driven by the delta variant of the virus.
Freedom Day is also happening as Sajid Javid, Britan’s health minister, is self-isolating because he tested positive for COVID. The National Health Service notified British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the finance minister that they had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID.
People who have been notified by the NHS of an exposure are expected to self-isolate. Johnson and Sunak, however, were expecting to participate in a pilot program that would have allowed them to work at Downing Street but decided against it after a public uproar.
“Whilst the test and trace pilot is fairly restrictive, allowing only essential government business,” Sunak posted on Twitter, “I recognize that even the sense that the rules aren’t the same for everyone is wrong. To that end I’ll be self-isolating as normal and not taking part in the pilot.”
In Thailand, protesters demonstrating against the government’s handling of the COVID outbreak clashed with police Sunday in Bangkok, the capital. The protests in the capital and in other locations around the country were in defiance of a ban on public gatherings of more than five people that was recently announced by the government.
U.S. teenaged tennis sensation Coco Gauff has tested positive for COVID and will not be part of the Tokyo Olympics. The 17-year-old athlete posted on Twitter that “It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future.” It was not immediately clear if Gauff had been vaccinated. The Olympic games were canceled last year, but the Olympic committee’s decision to continue with the games this year has received much criticism as the world continues to grapple with the handling of the COVID pandemic.
190.4 million global COVID cases and more than 4 million deaths from the virus were recorded worldwide early Monday, according to the coronavirus resource center of Johns Hopkins University. The center’s data shows that over 3.6 billion vaccines have been administered so far.