England: PM Warns People To ‘Behave Responsibly’ On Relaxing the Lockdown

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned people to continue to take steps to “suppress Covid” as the latest stage of lockdown easing comes into effect.

Pub gardens, indoor gyms, and hairdressers are among the businesses that can now reopen in England.

Northern Ireland’s “stay-at-home” order is ending and some rules are also being relaxed in Scotland and Wales.

Mr. Johnson welcomed the “major” step towards normality, but urged everyone to “behave responsibly”.

The PM had planned to have a celebratory pint to mark the measures easing, but that has been postponed following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday.

The rule changes in England from Monday include:

  • All shops can reopen
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons, and other close-contact services can open
  • Restaurants and pubs are allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors
  • Gyms, spas, zoos, theme parks, libraries, and community centers can all open
  • Members of the same household can take a holiday in England in self-contained accommodation
  • Up to 15 people can attend weddings and 30 can attend funerals
  • Children can attend any indoor children’s activity
  • Care home visitors will increase to two per resident
  • Driving lessons can resume, with tests restarting on 22 April.

In Northern Ireland, the remaining school year groups 8-11 will return to the classroom. The stay-at-home message is being relaxed and up to 10 people from two households can meet in a private garden.

In Scotland, all school pupils are returning to full-time education. However, not everyone is returning on Monday because differing term times mean some schools are still closed for the Easter holidays.

After a drop in Covid cases prompted the Welsh Government to bring forward some dates for reopening, all students will return to face-to-face teaching on Monday.

Non-essential shops can also reopen, close-contact services can resume, driving lessons can restart, and travel in and out of Wales from the rest of the UK is allowed.

In a statement, the prime minister said the rule relaxations are “a major step forward in our roadmap to freedom”.

“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,” he added.

“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 program.”

The rule changes in England mark the third in a series of easings since the country’s third national lockdown began on 6 January.

There is a gap of at least five weeks between each step on the government’s “roadmap” out of lockdown, to allow the impact of changes on infection rates and hospital admissions to be assessed.

The next significant date is 17 May, when up to six people from different households could be allowed to socialize indoors.

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