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England lockdown easing ‘biggest step yet’, says PM

The easing of lockdown rules in England is the “biggest step yet on the road to recovery”, the prime minister has said.

Many businesses – including pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas – can reopen from Saturday.

Boris Johnson said the public “must not let them down” by being complacent about social distancing, and he would “not hesitate” to reimpose restrictions if the number of Covid-19 cases rises.

“Targeted local” measures would replace “blanket national” ones, he said.

‘Disciplined approach’

England’s chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, who spoke alongside Mr Johnson at Friday’s Downing Street briefing, said no-one watching would think the easing was a risk-free step but that “there is no perfect, exact way of doing it”.

He also warned of the risk of coronavirus spreading in pubs.

“There’s no doubt these are environments whose principal job it is to bring people together. That’s a great thing to do socially, but it’s also a great thing from the virus’s point of view,” he said.

“And therefore we do have to have a really clear and really disciplined approach to try and maintain social distancing whilst also enjoying pubs.”

Mr Johnson said: “The success of these businesses, the livelihoods of those who rely on them and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly.”

“We must not let them down,” he said, adding that he wanted people to “enjoy summer safely”.

Pubs have been told they must wait until 06:00 BST to reopen as a “precaution” to avoid midnight parties.

And pub-goers are being encouraged to book tables in advance, while live gigs and standing at the bar will not be allowed.

The 35,000 or so pubs and small bars trading in England have been closed since 20 March – a day when 645 positive coronavirus cases were announced.

On Friday, 544 new coronavirus cases were announced, the lowest daily figure since 17 March – while there were 137 further deaths confirmed, taking the UK total past 44,000.

As well as the easing of restrictions on the hospitality industry, social distancing rules will change from 2m to “one metre plus” – meaning you should take additional precautions when people are within less than 2m.

The rule changes come days after a local lockdown was put in place in Leicester because of a spike in cases, with residents advised not to travel and businesses and schools remaining closed.

Mr Johnson said “good progress” was being made towards the reopening of other businesses – such as gyms, nail salons and night clubs – and that a timetable will be set out next week.

source: international-journal.com/

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