LONDON: Friends will hug, pints will be pulled and swaths of the British economy will reopen on Monday, granting 65 million people a measure of independence after a four-month COVID-19 lockout.
After a series of lockdowns that enforced the strictest restrictions in peacetime history, most British citizens would be able to hug again, though cautiously, drink a pint in their bar, sit down to an indoor meal or go to the movies.
During England’s lockdown, police broke up parties and marches alike shut down religious institutions and fined children up to 10,000 pounds ($14,000) for partying.
There is anticipation as democracy beckons once more.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had previously railed against the British state’s “nanny” tendencies before imposing three national lockdowns, urged people to cuddle cautiously and warned that the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected in India might cause the final UK reopening in June to be postponed.
Starting from Monday in England, groups of up to 30 people will be able to assemble outside, two families will be allowed to meet indoors, cafes, bars, and restaurants will reopen for indoor service, care home residents will be allowed to have five guests and face coverings will no longer be needed in schools.
Though the rules vary slightly in each of the United Kingdom’s four constituent sections, restrictions in England, Scotland and Wales will be eased beginning Monday, while restrictions in Northern Ireland will be eased slightly later.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the official death toll in the United Kingdom is 127,679, Europe’s highest figure and the world’s fifth highest, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico.
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