England entered the second phase of easing its lockdown on Monday, as a nationwide vaccination campaign has seen some success in lowering case numbers.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the UK's latest lockdown lift, while urging people to adhere to social distancing and hygiene guidelines with cases rising across Europe and new variants threatening the vaccine rollout.
The first phase on March 8 opened schools.
What restrictions are being eased in England?
- Stay-at-home rules are lifted.
- Up to six people, or two households, can meet outside and in private gardens.
- Outdoor weddings are allowed, with up to six people in attendance.
- Outdoor sports facilities are now open, including outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts and golf courses.
- Organized outdoor sports may resume.
What restrictions remain?
- Non-essential stores, gyms, theaters, museums are still closed.
- Restaurants and bars are still closed, with takeout permitted.
- Vacation travel abroad is prohibited.
- People are still advised to work from home when possible and to limit travel.
When will more restrictions be eased?
The third phase of reopening is due to begin on April 12. If case numbers remain under control, outdoor drinking in pubs and outdoor service in restaurants will resume.
Non essential retail and services like hairdressers will also reopen.
As vaccinations continue at a good pace, the government hopes to fully lift restrictions in June.
"And as things stand, I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love," Johnson said on Saturday.
However, Johnson admitted that continental Europe's latest COVID wave could hit Britain in about three weeks, The "key difference" in the UK is the vaccination drive.
The UK reported more than 3,800 new infections in 24 hours on Sunday. For comparison, Germany reported more than 9,800 cases in the same time frame.
wmr/rt (Reuters, AFP)