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Covid-19: Lockdowns ease in England, Wales and most of Scotland

Covid-19 / Mon 17th May 2021 at 07:17am

PEOPLE must continue to play their part in stopping coronavirus, Boris Johnson has said, as lockdown rules ease in England, Wales and most of Scotland reports the BBC.

Millions of people can now socialise indoors in limited numbers, hug loved ones and visit pubs and restaurants inside again.

The ban on foreign travel has also been lifted and replaced with new rules.

But Mr Johnson said everyone still needed to be cautious, and also to get tested twice a week.

“Together we have reached another milestone in our road map out of lockdown, but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution,” the prime minister said.

He added: “Everyone must play their part by getting tested twice a week, coming forward for your vaccine when called, and remembering hands, face, space and fresh air.

“I urge everyone to be cautious and take responsibility when enjoying new freedoms today in order to keep the virus at bay.”

Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government’s independent scientific advisory group Sage, said the lifting of the rules was the “most difficult policy decision of the last 15 months or so. It is very, very finely balanced.”

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the variant first identified in India, which is thought to be more transmissible, “is becoming dominant in parts of the UK, and yet vaccination across the country has been extraordinary successful”.

“I think we will see an increase of cases and infections over the coming weeks as some of the restrictions are lifted, but the key question is whether we have decoupled increased transmission in the number of people who do get infected from the number of people who get ill and need to go to hospital.”

Anyone in England and Scotland can order free lateral flow tests – which give results in 30 minutes – even if they do not have symptoms. In Wales and Northern Ireland, they are available for certain people, such as those who cannot work from home.

How have the rules changed?

England:

  • People can now meet indoors in groups of up to six or two households, or in groups of up to 30 outdoors. Overnight stays are allowed
  • Pubs, bars and restaurants can serve customers indoors
  • Museums, cinemas, children’s play areas, theatres, concert halls and sports stadiums can all reopen, as can hotels
  • Social distancing guidance is changing and contact with other households like hugs is a matter of personal choice
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