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Johnson hails end of 'national hibernation' as families can meet

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Reopening: Boris Johnson announces the relaxation of some Covid-19 measures in England. Photo: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS

Reopening: Boris Johnson announces the relaxation of some Covid-19 measures in England. Photo: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS

via REUTERS

Reopening: Boris Johnson announces the relaxation of some Covid-19 measures in England. Photo: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Handout via REUTERS

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the beginning of the end of Britain's "national hibernation" yesterday as he announced the biggest return of freedoms since lockdown began.

Mr Johnson said families and friends would be able to mingle indoors and even go on holiday together from July 4 in England, when pubs and restaurants will also reopen and the two-metre rule will be reduced to one metre.

However, Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, warned many of the new social distancing measures would have to remain in place "until this time next year" because a coronavirus vaccine is still a long way off.

Mr Johnson announced domestic tourism would be up and running again with hotels, guesthouses and campsites allowed to open on July 4, along with hairdressers, cinemas and almost every type of tourist attraction.

However gyms, swimming pools, nightclubs, indoor sports facilities and concert venues were among the losers - with no date for reopening.

The public was told they must still work from home where possible, and to avoid public transport if they can. There was no update on how all pupils will return to school.

Mr Johnson said: "Today we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our streets and to our shops, the bustle is starting to come back and a new but cautious optimism is palpable."

His announcement effectively signals the end of lockdown, which will be replaced with a set of complicated rules governing everything from how people see their families to having a pint.

The prime minister said July 4 would be "a great day" and urged people to get out and "enjoy themselves".

He cautioned there would inevitably be further "local" outbreaks, but said he did not believe there was a risk of a second wave of infections that could overwhelm the NHS.

He said a steady drop in infections meant churches could open for communal worship and weddings with up to 30 guests could take place.

Two households will be able to meet indoors - at home, in a pub, restaurant or on a shared holiday - and even stay overnight, though they must stay at least one metre apart.

There will be no limit on how many households can meet, as long as they stick to only two households at a time, meaning families will not have to choose between grandparents. They will have to wait a little longer before they can hug each other.

Mr Johnson said people should stay two metres apart where possible, but where they cannot they can be within one metre of each other as long as they mitigate that with measures such as face masks or good ventilation.

The move will enable pubs, restaurants, cinemas and other venues to open on July 4.

Meanwhile, German authorities ordered a new lockdown yesterday in the area surrounding a slaughterhouse that was the scene of a serious outbreak of coronavirus among workers.

More than 370,000 people in the city of Gutersloh and surrounding areas were put under renewed lockdown measures, including a ban on contact with more than one person at a time from outside their own household.

Schools, nurseries, bars, cinemas and gyms were all closed. Restaurants were allowed to stay open but only for single households to sit together.

It follows an outbreak among workers at the Tonnies pig slaughterhouse nearby in Rheda-Wiedenbruck, where 1,553 people tested positive in a week.

There were only 24 cases outside the slaughterhouse but Armin Laschet, the regional prime minister, ordered the lockdown as a precaution.

The favourite to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor of Germany had led calls for an early end to the national lockdown and resisted ordering local measures in Gutersloh for several days. But as cases mounted his hand was forced. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk


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