Easing of England’s coronavirus lockdown, shops deemed non-essential are also reopening, as are hairdressers, indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos but social mixing indoors remains heavily restricted, with around two in five adults yet to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – and the vast majority yet to get both.
England, shops, hairdressers, gyms and pub gardens will reopen today. Northern Ireland’s stay-at-home order is ending and some rules are also being relaxed in Scotland and Wales.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson termed it as a major step towards freedom from the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, he said it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long. He urged everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ to suppress COVID.
Hundreds of thousands of businesses have been closed since early January when England entered a third lockdown to stem surging infections driven by the “Kent” variant of the virus. A vaccination campaign that has delivered a first shot to well over half of adults and lockdown measures have cut deaths by more than 95 per cent and cases by over 90 per cent from the January peak.
Yesterday’s seven deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID test is the lowest daily death toll by this measure since Sept 14.
With more than 127,000 fatalities, the United Kingdom has the fifth highest death toll in the world from COVID-19.
Persuading people to return to some kind of normality and start spending again is key to Britain’s recovery after official data last month showed that 2020 was the worst year for its economy in more than three centuries.
Indoor service will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest.