UK moves to reopen from painful coronavirus lockdowns
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says better days ahead; Benjamin Hall reports from London
For two long months, the United Kingdom has been in total lockdown – schools, hospitality, and non-essential shops shut – with people advised to stay at home.
But finally, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the end is near.
“We’re setting out on what I hope and believe is a one way road to freedom, and this journey is made possible by the pace of the vaccination programme,” he said.
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The roadmap comes in various stages:
March 8 – All children will resume school, People can meet one other person outside for more than just exercise, Care home residents can receive one regular visitor.
March 29 – Outdoor gatherings allowed of up to six people. Outdoor sport will be allowed.
April 12 – Reopening of non-essential retail, hair and nail salons, gyms and pools.
May 17th – Indoor venues such as pubs and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs, cinemas, museums will reopen.
June 21 – All legal limits removed and the last sectors such as nightclubs will reopen.
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The announcement led to a rush to book overseas vacations – amid optimism travel restrictions will be removed by summer.
But critics argue it’s too slow: Nigel Farage tweeted, “It will be 3 months until we can have a drink in a pub. This is freedom at a snail’s pace.”
The British economy dropped 10% in 2020 – the most in the g7. and some businesses say they can’t hold on.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive Officer of UK Hospitality said, “Every day, every week that goes by, we stand to lose more and more of our businesses because they are hemorrhaging cash at the moment”
The UK has had one the worst death tolls in the world –180 deaths per 100,000 – vs 151 in the US.
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But following a successful vaccine roll out across 27% of the population, there is at least now light at the end of the tunnel.
Despite that, some companies are also afraid they haven’t seen the worst – that they say will come when government relief ends – only then will they know whether the cure was worse than the disease.
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