‘Behave responsibly’, urges UK PM Boris Johnson as Covid lockdown eases
London, April 12 (PTI): Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to continue to “behave responsibly” as shops, hairdressers, restaurants, pubs and gyms reopen their doors on Monday in the latest stage of the coronavirus lockdown easing in England.
People were seen queuing overnight outside some clothing stores and also some pubs and restaurants, which are now allowed to serve customers outdoors. Social mixing indoors remains heavily restricted and people are still expected to work from home where possible to minimise the amount they have to commute.
“I’m sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it’s a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed,” Johnson said.
“I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ to suppress Covid as we push on with our vaccination programme,” he said.
According to some media reports, the UK PM will be among some of the first in line to get his haircut ahead of a special House of Commons session for tributes to the late Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away on Friday.
Under this stage of the lockdown easing roadmap laid out by the government, public buildings such as libraries and community centres can reopen. Most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and socially-distanced drive-in performances can reopen.
Some smaller outdoor events such as fetes, literary fairs, and fairgrounds can take place; weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, wakes and other commemorative events can take place for up to 15 people.
People are not allowed to visit each other’s homes and socialising indoors remains prohibited outside of households and support bubbles.
The Metropolitan Police also urged people to exercise caution as it prepared to enhance patrols in busy areas of London.
The Met is ready to welcome back people to the streets of London. We will be stepping up our patrols to busy high footfall areas, to look out for everyone’s safety and to disrupt any criminal activity, said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Jane Connors, the Met Police’s lead for COVID-19 response.
Of course, where we need to take action against those who dangerously flout the rules we will do. While the case rate has declined in London, we have seen the concerning position in northern Europe. It is important that we all stick to the rules so further lockdowns, or restrictions, are avoided, she said.
Businesses have been making extensive preparations for this stage of the lockdown roadmap, including safety glass, queuing systems, social distancing signage, better ventilation, and more frequent cleaning.
Monday’s rule changes in England mark the latest easing since the country’s third national stay-at-home lockdown began on January 6. Other devolved regions are also similarly gradually easing up, with schools back in full force in Scotland and a stay-at-home lockdown in Wales being lifted.
The next significant lockdown roadmap date is May 17, when up to six people from different households could be allowed to socialise indoors.
The latest stage comes as more than 32 million people in the UK have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine and of those 7.4 million have also had their second dose. Saturday marked a record day for the National Health Service (NHS) vaccination programme, with a record total of 475,230 second doses administered along with 111,109 first doses.
Meanwhile, the daily death toll from the deadly virus continues a downward trend, with seven deaths reported on Sunday the lowest daily death toll last September.
Everyone in England is now also being encouraged to access free, rapid lateral flow tests for themselves and their families to use twice a week, as an added method of monitoring infection rates.
Rapid lateral flow tests are said to detect cases with high levels of virus and are very effective in finding people who do not have symptoms but are very likely to transmit the disease. Anyone testing positive is then expected to follow up with a more reliable PCR test.
People who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive with COVID-19 can also order a PCR test during their 10-day self-isolation period, whether or not they have symptoms.
From Sunday, an updated Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air campaign is also being used to remind the public of the need to use the NHS Covid-19 app to check in to premises, including outdoor hospitality, hairdressers and gyms.