England announces easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions

06:15 PM | 23 Jun, 2020
England announces easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions
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LONDON – Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that England could start gradually easing the COVID-19 lockdown thanks to a significant prevalence drop, adding that the 2-meter social distancing rule would be changed starting July 4.

"Our cautious relaxation of the guidance is entirely conditional of our continued defeat of the virus. In the first half of May, nearly 69,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 across the UK. By the first half of June, that token has fallen by 70 percent to just under 22,000 ... This pandemic has inflicted permanent scars and we mourn everyone we have lost... While we remain vigilant, we do not believe there is currently a risk of a second peak of infections that might overwhelm the NHS ... Thanks to our progress, we can now go further and safely ease the lockdown in England," Johnson told the UK parliament.

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Each step will be conditional and reversible, the prime minister stressed.

"Given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus, we can change the 2-meter social distancing rule from July 4, ... Where it is possible to keep 2 meters apart, people should. But where it is not, we would advise people to keep a social distance of 1 meter plus," Johnson added.

Households will be able to host visitors in their home, including overnight, and to meet with members of different households, on different occasions – including in a restaurant or hotel, for example. 

Hotels, campsites, hairdressers and churches will be expected to collect and keep the contact details of visitors, so they can be traced in the event of a fresh local outbreak of the virus.

Theatres and concert halls will be also be able to reopen – but they cannot host live performances, because of concerns including the risk that singing transmits the virus.

UK has so far reported a total of 305,289 cases of coronavirus while 42,647 people lost their live since the virus outbreak in the country earlier this year.