13:12 GMT13 August 2020
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    Countries Ease Lockdown Measures While COVID-19 Cases Surpass 4 Mln Worldwide (197)

    Public houses in the United Kingdom have been closed since 23 March due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 42,000 people in Britain. But Health Secretary Matt Hancock says COVID-19 is now “in retreat”.

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced pubs, restaurants, cinemas and museums in England will be able to reopen from 4 July.

    The government says it will relax its social distancing guidelines from two metres to one metre, which means that pubs will be able to allow customers inside, rather than just sell takeaway beer.

    ​On Tuesday, 23 June, Mr Johnson said: "While we remain vigilant, we do not believe there is a risk of a second wave of infections." 

    He said the virus was on the retreat and said: "We created a human shield around the NHS and our doctors and nurses have protected us."

    The government believes the reopening of pubs, restaurants and cinemas will help to kickstart the British economy, which has stalled since the beginning of the lockdown in March.

    ​Because of devolution, Mr Johnson's announcement only applies to England but politicians in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to follow his step.

    Mr Johnson said: "We trust the British public to use their common sense in awareness of the risk. The more we open up the more vigilant we will have to be."

    The prime minister said pubs and restaurants would have to provide table service, so customers will not be able to queue at the bar for their pints.

    ​He also allowed the reopening of hairdressing salons and barbers and said nail salons may also be able to reopen.

    Britain has Europe's highest death toll from the virus and is third in the world behind the United States and Brazil.

    ​Mr Johnson said: "The virus has not gone away. We will continue to monitor data. There will be flare-ups and we will not hesitate to apply the brakes even at national level if required."
    He said: "Our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our streets and our shops. A new and cautious optimism is palpable."

    The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, welcomed Mr Johnson's announcement and said: "Any unlocking posing a risk and it needs to be monitored and there needs to be support for local councils if there are local outbreaks."

    Countries Ease Lockdown Measures While COVID-19 Cases Surpass 4 Mln Worldwide (197)
    coronavirus, COVID-19, pub, Boris Johnson
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