Chilly weather doesn't dampen UK joy at lockdown easing
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to “behave responsibly” as shops, gyms, hairdressers, restaurant patios and beer gardens reopened after months of lockdown.
Monday brought the easing of restrictions that have been in place in England since early January to suppress a surge in coronavirus infections linked to a more transmissible new variant first identified in the southeast of the country.
Long lines formed outside some stores, including a branch of Nike Town in London’s busy Oxford Street, and pubs and restaurants with outdoor space reported a flood of bookings.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said businesses that have endured months of enforced closure were “excited and desperate” to welcome customers back.
At a hairdresser in Birmingham, customer Amy Smith said she was thrilled to be getting a trim at last.
“It’s great to be here, I’ve been going with this weird little topknot for a few months now,” she said. “I’m going to a go to a beer garden experience later, so it’s going to be good.”
Many people were planning outdoor meals and drinks, despite unseasonably cold weather that brought snow to some parts of London and many other areas.
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are following distinct but broadly similar plans to ease lockdown.
Britain has had Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 127,000 confirmed deaths.
Infections, hospitalizations and deaths have all fallen thanks to the lockdown, and a mass vaccination program that has given at least one dose to more than 60% of the adult population.
The situation in Britain stands in contrast to many of its neighbors, including France, where new lockdowns have been introduced to combat surging...