Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for a “heavy dose of caution” as lockdown restrictions continue to ease in England.
Indoor socialising, physical contact and holidays to destinations on the green list can resume from Monday (17 May) in England, but concerns remain over the Indian Covid variant.
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As pubs, restaurants and cafes open their doors for customers to dine indoors, and care home rules are further relaxed, the Prime Minister said “now everyone must play their part”.
Physical contact, including hugs, are also permitted between households for the first time since restrictions began last year.
Cinemas, hotels and B&Bs can also now reopen, with the “rule of six” applying indoors.However, people are being urged to continue getting tested for the virus and receiving the vaccine when invited, as the Indian Covid variant is feared to be as much as 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent strain.
In a statement, Mr Johnson said: “Together we have reached another milestone in our road map out of lockdown, but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution.
“We are keeping the spread of the variant first identified in India under close observation and taking swift action where infection rates are rising.”
He said the “current data does not indicate unsustainable pressure on the NHS”, and that second vaccine doses are being accelerated to give the greatest protection to the most vulnerable.
However, he added: “But now everyone must play their part – by getting tested twice a week, coming forward for your vaccine when called and remembering hands, face, space and fresh air.”