LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday urged people to act “safely and sensibly” as the coronavirus lockdown restrictions are set to further ease up in England to allow bars, pubs and restaurants to reopen from Saturday.
Nearly 35,000 pubs and bars trading in England are set to finally welcome back customers within Covid-secure settings after they shut down on March 23 with the UK going into lockdown.
“I hope people will do this safely and sensibly. My message is let’s not blow it now folks,” Johnson told LBC Radio in reference to the reopening.
Many of the businesses, including hairdressers and cinemas, will be allowed to open their doors to the public for the first time this weekend after over three months of shutdown.
Emergency service chiefs have also appealed to pub-goers to behave responsibly this weekend amid fears of large crowds swarming to public venues.
In a joint statement, representatives of the police, fire and ambulance services urged the people to drink in moderation, to observe social distancing and reassess their plans if conditions are not safe.
“If you’re coming out on Saturday, be calm, be sensible. Look after yourself, look after your family. We are still in a global pandemic which is affecting this country. People need to be sensible,” said Scotland Yard Commissioner Cressida Dick.
Johnson was also keen to highlight that “we are not out of the woods yet” when it comes to the deadly virus, which has claimed over 43,000 lives in the UK.
He will reiterate his message at a Downing Street briefing to say the lifting of restrictions is about “supporting the livelihoods of business owners and their employees up and down the country”.
“Just as when we first locked down, we will only succeed in reopening if everyone works together. Because we are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still with us and the spike in Leicester has shown that,” he said, repeating previous assertions that the government “will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and re-imposing restrictions” if there is a spike in the virus as a result of the changes.
The ease up of lockdown rules comes days after a local lockdown was imposed in Leicester, a heavily Indian-origin region in eastern England, because of a spike in coronavirus cases.
Businesses and schools in the city will have to remain closed, with residents advised not to travel in and out of the city.
In Northern Ireland, pubs, bars, hotels and cafes are re-opening on Friday, while in Scotland hospitality venues with outdoor space will open their doors on Monday. No date has yet been set in Wales.