LONDON – Millions of people in Britain will get their first chance in months to get their hair cut, shop casually and dine at restaurants on Monday, as the government takes the next step in its lockdown roadmap.
National restrictions have been in place in Britain since early January, and similar rules in other parts of the UK, to curb the surge in coronavirus infections that swept the country late last year related to a new, more infectious variant that was first identified in southeast England. .
Britain has experienced Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 127,000 confirmed deaths.
Infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have all fallen thanks to lockdowns and mass vaccination programs that have provided at least one dose to more than 60% of the adult population.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson and epidemiologists have urged caution, saying that many people remain unvaccinated and relaxing social distancing rules or allowing holidays abroad this summer could bring about a spike in new infections.
“The situation in Britain is becoming clear and stable, but one has to remember that it is not happening anywhere else,” said Peter Horby, who heads the government’s New and New Respiratory Threats Advisory Group. “The pandemic is still raging globally.
“And many countries in Europe even still see racing case numbers or have to re-lock them. So it is very difficult to predict what will happen in the coming months, “he told Times Radio.
On Monday, non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen, along with hair salons, gyms and outdoor services in pubs and restaurants.
The prime minister had promised to visit a pub for a beer to mark the event, but put off celebratory drinks afterward Prince Philip’s death, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, on Friday.
Drinking and eating indoors will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest, and theaters, cinemas, nightclubs and most other venues remain closed, while indoor socialization is strictly restricted and foreign holidays remain banned.
The easing is good news for retail and hospitality businesses, which have seen several lockdowns over the past year. But it is far from business as usual; The British Brewers and Pubs Association estimates that only 40% of pubs in the UK have room to reopen for outdoor services.
These rules apply in England. The rest of Great Britain – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – followed their own, broadly similar plans.