Millions of people in Britain will get their first chance in months for haircuts, casual shopping and restaurant meals on Monday, as the government takes the next step on its lockdown-lifting road map. Nationwide restrictions have been in place in England since early January, and similar rules in the other parts of the UK, to suppress a surge in coronavirus infections that swept the country late last year. The surge was linked to a more transmissible new variant first identified in southeast England. Britain has had Europe's worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 127,000 confirmed deaths, the AP reports. Infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have all fallen during the lockdown and a mass vaccination program that has given at least one dose to more than 60% of the adult population.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson and epidemiologists have urged caution, saying that many people remain unvaccinated and that relaxing social distancing rules or allowing foreign holidays this summer could bring a new spike in infections. "The situation in the UK is becoming clear and is stabilizing, but people have to remember that's not the case elsewhere," said a government adviser. On Monday, nonessential shops will be allowed to reopen, along with hair salons, gyms, and outdoor service at pubs and restaurants. Indoor drinking and dining won’t be allowed until May 17 at the earliest, and theaters, cinemas, nightclubs, and most other venues remain closed, while indoor socializing is tightly restricted and foreign holidays remain banned. The rules apply in England. The other parts of the United Kingdom—Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—are following their own, broadly similar plans.
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