Travellers to London have had to face a range of restrictions during the pandemic just as the capital’s nine million inhabitants have, but that could all soon change.
Right now, even getting to the metropolis from overseas will be hard because of the UK government’s decision to close air corridors. However, the rapid progress of the vaccination programme promises to transform the situation.
So far, almost four million people have received at least their first jab, and capacity is being ramped up fast as a series of new mass vaccination centres have been opened. Prime minister Boris Johnson revealed injections are being given at a rate of 140 per minute.
Enough progress has been made with the top priority group - the over 80s, that the over-70s are now being contacted with their appointment dates.
Britain’s fast progress is partly due to having access to one of the approved vaccines - devised by Oxford University in partnership with AstraZeneca - partly via production in the UK.
What all this means is that the UK government is already starting to consider when and how it may ease the lockdown restrictions, something those who plan to visit London in 2021 and make use of a first class chauffeur service will be very interested to learn about.
The current target is to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups by mid-February, but a wider aim is to ensure the whole adult population can get at least their first jab by September, with some reports suggesting this might be achieved by June.
What this may do is enable a widespread opening up of London’s attractions and facilities, with its world class museums and art galleries, restaurants, bars and clubs. Sporting events can also take place with spectators, which may mean some reduced admissions to Wimbledon and fuller crowds for events later in the year, such as football and rugby matches.
Early evidence of the potential impact of vaccines has emerged from Israel, one of the very few countries to have made faster progress with vaccinations that Britain.
With a quarter of the country’s population already vaccinated, infectious diseases expert David Fishman has noted a falling R number may be a sign that the programme is already bearing fruit.