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The UK now has the strictest lockdown in Europe

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·4-min read
People walk past the Bank of England, at right, in the City of London financial district of London, during England's third coronavirus lockdown, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday a slow easing of one of Europe's strictest pandemic lockdowns, with non-essential shops and hairdressers due to reopen April 12. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
People walk past the Bank of England, at right, in the City of London financial district of London, during England's third coronavirus lockdown. (AP Photo)

The United Kingdom now has the strictest coronavirus lockdown in Europe, according to new research.

It comes after Boris Johnson outlined plans to lift lockdown in a “cautious” approach over the next few months.

The country's current measures include a stay-at-home order, the closure of schools and all non-essential businesses as well as travel bans and mandatory hotel quarantines for those arriving from "red list" countries.

It now has the strictest lockdown in the whole of Europe, according to analysis by Our World In Data, a website run in collaboration between researchers at the University of Oxford and the non-profit organisation Global Change Data Lab.

Read: EU orders six countries to relax border restrictions for 'going too far'

To measure how tight lockdowns are, the data platform has looked at nine coronavirus response indicators.

These include school closures, workplace closures, cancellation of public events, restrictions on public gatherings, public transport closures, stay-at-home orders, public information campaigns, restrictions on internal movements and international travel controls.

Using these metrics, the UK’s lockdown was measured at a level of 86.11 out of 100.

The UK currently has the strictest lockdown in Europe. (Our World In Data)
The UK currently has the strictest lockdown in Europe. (Our World In Data)

Ireland came in second with 85.19, followed by Germany (83.33), Italy (82.41) and Cyrus (80.56).

At the end of last month, the UK was in sixth place for the strictest lockdown in Europe, meaning that other countries have since eased their restrictions while Britain brought in new hotel quarantine rules from February 15.

It comes despite UK cases dropping below the European average for the first time since December 11 as coronavirus restrictions drive the numbers down.

 People wearing face masks seen inside a tube station in London.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveils plan to end England restrictions. A new four-step plan to ease England's lockdown could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by 21 June, if strict conditions are met. (Photo by May James / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People wearing face masks seen inside a tube station in London. (SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Infections in Britain dipped to 165.68 on February 20 - below Europe’s average of 172.83 on the same date, according to Our World in Data.

The UK’s decline in cases comes amid the success of its vaccination program, which is paving the way for lockdown measures to be lifted completely by June 21.

Almost 18 million Brits have now received at least one of the two jabs while the government aims for the vaccination of all adults by the end of July.

Watch: Coronavirus vaccine in numbers: UK closes in on 18 million first-dose vaccinations

Meanwhile, the county’s neighbour France is long behind this total, having administered just 2.6 million jabs so far.

The French are also not under a full lockdown, despite stubbornly high infection rates, particularly around Nice where there are currently 7,000 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants.

Instead, there is a national curfew in force between 6pm and 6am, meaning hospitality businesses still have a chance to trade in the daytime.

A localised lockdown is due to come into force this weekend in the Alpes-Maritimes region for a minimum of two weeks to try to bring the spike in cases under control.

The UK's cases dipped below the European average on February 20 for the first time since early December. (Our Word In Data)
The UK's cases dipped below the European average on February 20 for the first time since early December. (Our Word In Data)

Meanwhile, in Germany, the current nationwide shutdown is due to last until March 7 after first being imposed in November.

While a potential extension to be discussed by regional leaders on March 3, some restrictions are set to be softened slightly earlier, with hairdressers allowed to reopen from March 1 subject to strict hygiene measures.

Italy, one of the hardest-hit European nations, is currently relying on an approach similar to the UK’s previous tier system, with regions assigned as either white, yellow, orange or red.

Read more:

Boris Johnson's lockdown road map explained

Three reasons why lifting lockdown straight away is an 'appalling idea', according to Sage adviser (from Friday)

Under the rules imposed by the newly formed government, there can be no visits between regions until at least March 27, with no inter-household visiting at all in red zones.

But with increasing concern over new variants of the virus, there are growing calls from some quarters, notably senior health adviser Walter Ricciardi, for universal measures to be imposed.

Lockdown could get significantly tighter for Italians before it is lifted.

Watch: COVID-19: Is work from home here to stay? What UK businesses are planning