UK: Reminder of risks as lockdown further eased
By Hamed Chapman
London, (The Muslim News): Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Monday a further easing of lockdown restrictions while cautioning the public to remain wary of the continuing risks of the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” Johnson said.
From April 12, all-non-essential shops, hairdressing saloons, alfresco restaurants as well as beer gardens were being allowed to reopen in England in accordance to the second step of his so-called roadmap.
The Prime Minister said it would be a “huge relief” for business owners who have been closed for so long, but some scientists have warned the Government of the risks of a third wave, accuse ministers of abandoning their promises to “follow the data, not dates” in a rush to reopen society and the economy.
Hopes are being pinned on the UK completing its emergency vaccination programme during the summer despite falling up to six weeks behind schedule because of problems affecting the AstraZeneca jab.
Forecasts are that 75% of the population can be fully immunised in the country by the first week in August, a level where herd immunity arguably begins to take effect – though variants and the potential need for booster jabs could impact this significantly.
With some alteration across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the main changes in England include:
Retailers, hairdressers and zoos
All non-essential shops can reopen with extended hours until 10pm between Monday and Saturday to ensure compliance with coronavirus guidelines and help shoppers return more safely. Several high street chains are expected to also reopen changing rooms for the first time in a year but shopper are still urged to shop alone or within households.
Hairdressers and nail salons are also allowed to reopen but have been told to avoid lengthy treatments to reduce contact time. Outdoor hospitality venues such as zoos and theme parks will also reopen. Gyms will be able to reopen but people must exercise alone or with their household while group exercise classes will not be allowed. Saunas and steam rooms remain closed, but indoor swimming pools and other indoor exercise venues will reopen.
Restaurants and Pubs
Restaurants as well as pubs are allowed to open and serve customers but with outdoor service only. Everyone who visits will have to check in on the NHS’s Test-and-trace app and groups are limited to six people or two households. Customers are also advised to take cash with them as card machines may not work due to poor broadband and mobile signals in some outside venues.
Weddings and funerals
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies may take place, as well as receptions. The limit on the maximum number of attenders will rise from six to 15. Funerals will continue with the current number of guests limited to 30.
Self-catering holidays in England will be allowed for one household, and campsites will be open. Hotels and B&Bs will remain closed. Travel into and out of Wales from the rest of the United Kingdom will be allowed.
Scotland remains in lockdown, but the aim is to open all retail premises, including libraries, museums, and tourist accommodation on April 26. For Scots, travel within Scotland will be allowed and self-catering accommodation can reopen from April 26.
In Northern Ireland, 10 people from two households will be able to meet outdoors from April 12. Only essential retail is permitted to remain open and contactless click and collect services is permitted for shops selling baby equipment, clothing, electrical goods, garden centres and plant nurseries.
[Image of 3D medical animation of Covid-19 virus structure www.scientificanimations.com/Creative Commons]