Jen Psaki says she can’t predict easing of COVID rules after cases peak in Britain

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Jen Psaki says she can't predict easing of COVID rules after cases peak in Britain

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday she couldn’t predict when the Biden administration would begin to ease COVID-19 restrictions after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain would begin to roll back vaccine and mask rules now that cases have peaked.

During an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” host Dana Perino pointed out to Psaki that the US is about six weeks behind Europe and Britain when it comes to responding to COVID variants like Delta and Omicron.

“Are we six weeks away from something like a Boris Johnson announcement?” Perino asked. 

“I can’t make a prediction of that, because we listen to the scientists,” Psaki said.

“Obviously, we’ve seen it spike in some parts of the world. We’ve seen spikes and come down a little bit in some parts of the United States. But we’ll be watching it very closely​,” she said. ​

Pedestrians wearing masks pass a souvenir stand in Westminster in London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans to roll back COVID restrictions in the United Kingdom.
AP / Kirsty Wigglesworth

Perino also questioned Psaki on whether the US would follow the United Kingdom’s lead and “provide America an off-ramp to COVID and especially for … the unvaccinated” noting that some who have declined to get inoculated against the virus have felt like “scapegoats and second-class citizens.”

“Well first let me say, 75 percent of the country is fully vaccinated,” the press secretary responded. “All of those people did not vote for Joe Biden and certainly they’re not all Democrats. We know that mathematically.

“What the president’s trying to do is protect the country, protect people from death. We also know from the CDC and from our scientists that you are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized and 20 times more likely to die if you are not vaccinated,” Psaki went on.

Psaki joined Fox News to discuss talks of rolling back COVID restrictions.
Psaki joined Fox News to discuss a variety of topics, including COVID restrictions.
Fox News

“At the same time, Dana, I think you make a really important point — we don’t want to live like this. You heard the president say we don’t want to live like this forever. We want to get back to a point where we’re not wearing masks, of course, where we’re not worried about our kids being in school places​,” she continued.

“That’s where we want to get to, and what we’re trying to do is continue to fight at the height of a pandemic to get to that point,” Psaki said.​

Johnson announced Wednesday that now-mandatory COVID-19 passes will not be needed to gain entry to large-scale events in England beginning Jan. 27. Face masks will no longer be legally required anywhere in England as of that day.

​​He also said the government would no longer advise people to work from home. ​

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Rutherford Diagnostic Center in Taunton, Somerset.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that COVID-19 passes won’t be required at large events in the UK come the end of January.
ZUMAPRESS.com / Andrew Matthews

The prime minister also said he didn’t expect the government to renew a requirement for people who test positive for COVID to self-isolate for five days when it expires on March 24. ​

The requirements were established in December to combat the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The UK’s Office for National Statistics said Wednesday that the rate of people testing positive for COVID had fallen in the week ending Jan. 15 to an estimated 1 in 20 people.

The rate had been as high as 1 in 15 as of Dec. 31.

The British government also estimates that roughly 95 percent of the country’s population has developed antibodies from either being infected or getting vaccinated.

Sign seen through store window that says "masks required."
The US has no plans to roll back mask or vaccine requirements as of yet.
AFP via Getty Images / Stefani Reynolds

“As COVID becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others,” Johnson said.

Scotland and Wales, which set their own public health rules, have also announced similar easing of restrictions.

With Post wires​

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