Pub gardens, gyms and hairdressers reopen

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A bar employee pours drinks at the Switch Bar, which will open in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England on April 12, 2021 following the easing of lockdown measures.

Ian Forsyth | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON – Britain has further eased its lockdown by reopening unnecessary shops and perhaps the most missed social hotspot – pub – which can welcome customers back to their gardens on Monday.

Hairdressers, beauty and nail salons, and indoor recreational facilities such as gyms and spas are now allowed to reopen, and overnight stays outside of home in England are now permitted. However, international travel remains illegal unless for essential reasons.

Public buildings such as libraries and community centers will reopen, as will outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks.

Open at midnight

Still, the reopening of the pub gardens when the weather improves is expected to give the UK public and hospitality sector a much-needed morale boost. It comes after a turbulent year with pubs, bars and restaurants mostly closed for the past 12 months.

A number of pubs with 24 hour licenses opened as soon as they were allowed. The Kentish Belle, a micropub in London, opened at 1 minute past midnight on Monday. Meanwhile, The Switch Bar in Newcastle was doing the same and was fully booked despite temperatures dropping below freezing.

Regular pubs across the country have been booked out for weeks as the drinkers counted down to April 12th. The punters will have to sit outside until further action is taken in the months ahead.

Friends make a toast while enjoying a drink at the Switch bar in Newcastle just after midnight after the lockdown measures were eased in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England on April 12, 2021.

Ian Forsyth | Getty Images News | Getty Images

After Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed last week that an analysis of Covid infection data after schools reopened meant the country’s reopening plan or “roadmap” could continue.

The government based its decisions on lifting the lockdown on four factors: that the vaccine deployment program continues successfully, that evidence shows that vaccines are reducing hospital stays and deaths, and that there is no increase in hospital stays. In addition, its assessment examines the risks posed by new variants of the virus.

Buyers line up outside a Nike store in central London as coronavirus restrictions are eased across the country on April 12, 2021.

GLYN KIRK | AFP | Getty Images

Johnson said last week that “nothing in the available data” could deviate from the roadmap at this time, so “step 2” of easing could take place on April 12th.

Johnson cautioned, however, saying that many restrictions remained; For example, outdoor gatherings still need to be limited to 6 people or 2 households, and people cannot socialize indoors with people they do not live with or with whom they have not formed a bubble of support.

The UK has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus. To date, over 4.3 million infections have been reported in the UK and over 127,000 people have died.

A silver lining was the country’s vaccination program, which has been one of the fastest and most successful in the world to date.

Until today over 32 million people were vaccinated with a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and over 7.4 million received a second dose. The speed of the rollout, which began in December ahead of the US and the EU, largely enabled the country to overcome a third wave of cases in late 2020 due to the spread of a more infectious variant of the virus.

The next lockdown easing is due on May 17th, when most of the outdoor mixing rules with a 30 person limit are lifted. Indoor mixing is also allowed for up to six people, and portions of pubs and restaurants, cinemas, museums, and indoor group practice classes are reopening. The government plans to completely lift all restrictions on social contact on June 21.

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