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World UK's Johnson voices optimism over lockdown easing route

19:55  03 may  2021
19:55  03 may  2021 Source:   msn.com

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LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that there is a “good chance” that social distancing rules in England will be scrapped on June 21 if coronavirus infections and deaths stay low.

Revellers react during the nation's first music festival, free of coronavirus restrictions, at Sefton Park in Liverpool, England, as part of the national Events Research Programme (ERP), Sunday May 2, 2021. The live music festival, with festival goers able to not wear face coverings or observe social distancing, while authorities research virus effects of the event. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Revellers react during the nation's first music festival, free of coronavirus restrictions, at Sefton Park in Liverpool, England, as part of the national Events Research Programme (ERP), Sunday May 2, 2021. The live music festival, with festival goers able to not wear face coverings or observe social distancing, while authorities research virus effects of the event. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)

Johnson told reporters in the north England town of Hartlepool where he is campaigning before a special election on Thursday that the government's lockdown easing plans remains on course as a result of a sharp fall in new coronavirus infections and the rapid rollout of vaccines.

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A member of the public, centre right, attempts to give Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, foreground, a pro-EU leaflet as he campaigns on behalf of Conservative Party candidate Jill Mortimer, in Hartlepool, England, Monday, May 3, 2021, ahead of the 2021 Hartlepool by-election to be held on May 6. (Lindsey Parnaby/PA via AP): Britain Politics © Provided by Associated Press Britain Politics

On Monday, the National Health Service delivered its 50 millionth vaccine, with around 52% of the British population having received at least one dose and around a quarter having received two jabs.

“You are seeing the results of that really starting to show up in the epidemiology," Johnson said.

Under its road map to ease restrictions which Johnson insists is dependent on “data not dates,” the government is set to lift further restrictions on May 17, such as allowing people to go inside a pub and restaurant and to allow some foreign travel.

Britain's Boris Johnson, centre right, poses for a 'selfie',  as he meets members of the public while campaigning on behalf of Conservative Party candidate Jill Mortimer, in Hartlepool, England, Monday, May 3, 2021, ahead of the 2021 Hartlepool by-election to be held on May 6. (Lindsey Parnaby/PA via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Britain's Boris Johnson, centre right, poses for a 'selfie', as he meets members of the public while campaigning on behalf of Conservative Party candidate Jill Mortimer, in Hartlepool, England, Monday, May 3, 2021, ahead of the 2021 Hartlepool by-election to be held on May 6. (Lindsey Parnaby/PA via AP)

On June 21, all other legal limits on social contact potentially lifted, including the rule that requires people to be at least one meter away from anyone outside their household provided other protective measures are in place, such as mask-wearing or meeting outdoors. This is known as the “one-meter plus” rule.

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, centre, talks to a member of the public as he campaigns on behalf of Conservative Party candidate Jill Mortimer, left, in Hartlepool, England, Monday, May 3, 2021, ahead of the 2021 Hartlepool by-election to be held on May 6. (Lindsey Parnaby/PA via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, centre, talks to a member of the public as he campaigns on behalf of Conservative Party candidate Jill Mortimer, left, in Hartlepool, England, Monday, May 3, 2021, ahead of the 2021 Hartlepool by-election to be held on May 6. (Lindsey Parnaby/PA via AP)

Johnson said there is “a good chance” that the one-meter plus rule will be ditched from June 21.

“That is still dependent on the data, we can’t say it categorically yet, we have got to look at the epidemiology as we progress, we have got to look at where we get to with the disease," he said. "But that’s what it feels like to me right now.”

Getting rid of the one-meter plus rule would change the financial dynamics for Britain's hospitality sector, which has been one of the most hard-hit during the pandemic. Because people can't sit right next to each, inside or outside, pubs and restaurants can't host as many people as they used to.

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Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, welcomed Johnson’s comments, saying they give the sector hope of return to normality.

“Given pubs are financially unviable under the current restrictions they face, being able to reopen without any restrictions at all from June 21 is going to be vital to their survival," she said. “Our recovery only begins when the restrictions are removed."

The latest daily figures from Sunday provided further evidence of the much-improved coronavirus backdrop in the U.K., with 1,671 new infections reported. That compares with the near 70,000 daily rate that the U.K. recorded in January, which led Johnson to announce England's third lockdown.

A man wearing a Boris Johnson head during a 'Kill the Bill' protest in central London, Saturday, May 1, 2021. The demonstration is against the contentious Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is currently going through Parliament and would give police stronger powers to restrict protests. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali) © Provided by Associated Press A man wearing a Boris Johnson head during a 'Kill the Bill' protest in central London, Saturday, May 1, 2021. The demonstration is against the contentious Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is currently going through Parliament and would give police stronger powers to restrict protests. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

With the sharp fall in new cases, the number of people dying from COVID-19 has fallen dramatically too and on Sunday, the U.K. recorded only 14 virus-related deaths. Though the death toll has reduced, the U.K. has recorded Europe's highest virus-related death toll at more than 127,500.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock expressed certainty over a “great British summer” ahead following news of the 50 million vaccine landmark.

“It’s because of the vaccination program that we’re able to keep going down this road map, and I know we’re going to have a great British summer,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at:

https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Muted celebrations of Dutch king's birthday amid pandemic .
AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch celebrated their king's birthday Tuesday in muted fashion as a coronavirus lockdown prevented large-scale street parties for the second year running. This year, the national holiday comes with lockdown fatigue rising and a day before an easing of some restrictions even though hospitals are having to postpone regular medical procedures so they can focus on the high level of COVID-19 patients. King Willem-Alexander wasThis year, the national holiday comes with lockdown fatigue rising and a day before an easing of some restrictions even though hospitals are having to postpone regular medical procedures so they can focus on the high level of COVID-19 patients.

usr: 1
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