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Coronavirus: 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.

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”.

It comes after pubs were told they must wait until 06:00 BST to reopen as a “precaution” to avoid midnight parties.

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”.

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

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.

The virus is now at much lower levels, but it has not gone away and may never go away. Until we have a vaccine it will always pose a threat.

We have already seen outbreaks in Leicester, Weston-super-Mare and Kirklees. Relaxing lockdown will make them more common. Read more 

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