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England to reopen pubs and ditch 2 meter rule

By Angus McNeice in London | | Updated: 2020-06-23 21:24
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The 2-meter social distancing rule will be ditched in favor of a "1 meter plus" measure in England from July 4, when people will be able to go to pubs and restaurants under relaxed COVID-19 lockdown regulations.

Two households of any size will be able to meet indoors or outside from that date, when additional venues will open including hairdressers, playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades.

The rules changes will only apply to England as the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland hold responsibility for their own restrictions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the latest round of lockdown lifting measures on Tuesday in the House of Commons.

"Today, we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our shops, streets and homes and a new, but cautious, optimism is palpable," Johnson said. "But it would be all too easy for that frost to return and that is why we will continue to trust in the common sense and the community spirit of the British people to follow this guidance, to carry us through and see us to victory over this virus."

The government imposed lockdown for the entire UK in late March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The country has experienced one of the worst outbreaks in Europe, with 305,289 confirmed cases and 42,647 deaths as of Monday.

Johnson lifted some restrictions in May and June, before announcing this latest swathe of eased measures scheduled for early July.

When asked about the dangers of a potential second spike in COVID-19 cases, Johnson said that he was confident the UK is now well placed to manage such a scenario. He said that testing and contact tracing is "getting better all the time" and he also said that a new treatment, the steroid dexamethasone, has been shown to reduce mortality in patients.

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