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England to ease COVID restrictions further on May 17

Sun, 9th May 2021 22:30

LONDON, May 9 (Reuters) - England will press ahead with
plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions further on May 17, including
allowing people to meet indoors, thanks to favourable data on
infections and vaccines, the government said on Sunday.

The country is in the process of gradually lifting its
latest lockdown over a period of months, in line with a
four-step plan unveiled in February.

Under Step 3 of the plan, as outlined when it was first
announced, people will be allowed to meet up indoors for the
first time in months, in groups of up to six people or two full
households together.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants will be able to host customers
indoors, also for the first time in months and subject to
certain rules. Other indoor entertainment, hospitality and
sports venues will also be able to resume activity.

Johnson's Downing Street office said the latest data on
COVID vaccinations, on infections, hospitalisations and deaths,
and on the risk posed by new variants had been taken into
account in deciding to move forward with Step 3.

"The data reflects what we already knew - we are not going
to let this virus beat us," Johnson said, according to a Downing
Street statement.

"The roadmap remains on track, our successful vaccination
programme continues - more than two thirds of adults in the UK
have now had the first vaccine - and we can now look forward to
unlocking cautiously but irreversibly."

Johnson was due to provide further details at a news
conference on Monday.

Semi-autonomous administrations in Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland have their own separate timetables for easing
COVID restrictions.

The United Kingdom has lost more than 127,000 people to
COVID-19. It experienced a devastating second wave that peaked
in late January, but since then the numbers of new cases and
deaths have plummeted.

On Sunday, a total of 1,770 new cases and two new deaths
were recorded across the United Kingdom. That contrasts with the
situation during the second wave, when the daily number of new
cases peaked at over 80,000 while the daily death toll was above
1,300 on the worst day.

There are also expected to be significant changes for the
arts and events sectors under Step 3, with both indoor and
outdoor venues allowed to host far greater numbers of people
than for many months.

The government had already confirmed last week that
international travel would be allowed to resume on May 17,
although still with severe restrictions in place except for a
handful of countries.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by David Evans)

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