England to ease curbs from July 4
Nearly 5mn people recover globally; Trump fears US deaths may top 150k
LONDON/ WASHINGTON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday announced a reduction of the two-metre social distancing rule imposed during the Covid-19 lockdown, allowing restaurants, museums, pubs and galleries to reopen with some curbs from July 4.
The relaxation applies only to England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all following slightly different measures.
“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 told parliament, adding that “caution will remain our watchword”.
Johnson, however, dashed hopes of restarting the cricketing season. “The problem with cricket, as everyone understands, is that the ball is a natural vector of disease - potentially, at any rate... At the moment, we’re still working on ways to make cricket more Covid-secure but we can’t change the guidance yet.”
From July 4, millions of people in Britain will be able to go to the pub, visit a movie theatre, get a haircut or attend a religious service, but will have to wait to see a concert, get a tattoo or go to the gym. Places of worship can hold services, but choirs and congregations won’t be permitted to sing since the virus can spread through open mouths. Live music and theatre performances are remaining off-limits. Indoor gyms, pools, spas and tattoo parlours will also stay shut.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 473,000 lives around the world and infected over 9 million people, while nearly 5 million people have recovered from the illness.
Researchers in South Africa, meanwhile, said the first Covid-19 vaccine trial on the African continent will start on Wednesday. Cases in South Africa had crossed 100,000, almost one-third of the infections on the continent. The South Africa vaccine trial aims to enrol 2,000 participants. The first are to get vaccinated this week in Gauteng province.
In the US, President Donald Trump said the death toll from the pandemic in the country could top 150,000.
“It could get up to 150,000, it could go beyond that. But we would have lost two million to four million lives (without mitigation),” he said in an interview. The US death toll from the disease has topped 120,000.
The UceLi Quartet perform for an audience made of plants during a concert that will be later streamed to mark the reopening of the Liceu Grand Theatre in Barcelona, Spain.