England is embarking on Saturday on perhaps its biggest lockdown easing yet as pubs and restaurants have the right to reopen for the first time in more than three months.
In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector, couples can tie the knot once again, people can go and see a movie at their local cinema and many of those who have had enough of their lockdown hair can finally get a trim. In all cases, social distancing rules have to be followed.
Though the easing of the lockdown will be warmly welcomed by many, there are concerns that the British government is being overly hasty, even reckless, in sanctioning the changes, given the country's still-high coronavirus infection and death rates.
On Friday, another 137 virus-related deaths were recorded across the U.K., the large majority in England, taking the total to 44,131, by far the highest in Europe and third behind the United States and Brazil.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the decision to ease the lockdown is based on the scientific evidence that people are ``appreciably less likely now to be in close proximity'' with someone with the virus than at the height of the pandemic.
``Let's not blow it now,'' he said.
In other countries, the reopening of bars and restaurants has been blamed for a spike in infections.
The four nations of the U.K. _ England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland _ are easing the lockdown at different speeds.