LONDON – Boris Johnson wants a haircut and beer.
Like millions of other British, the prime minister was secular and holy places, including cinemas and churches, on Saturday, with the coronavirus lockdown, the reopening of restaurants, bars and hairdressers in Britain.
Britain announced on Friday that it will remove the obligation to spend 14 days alone for people from dozens of countries. Starting on July 10, quarantine will be removed for those coming from countries considered “low risk” for coronavirus, including Australia, Japan, France, Spain, Germany and Italy – but not the world’s most affected country by COVID-19.
Insulation is tiring for British and cash-hungry businesses, the convenience of relieving the three-month lockdown is mixed with fear. The UK has the highest COVID-19 fee in Europe, with more than 44,000 confirmed deaths, and scientists say the coronavirus is still loose. Even the usually catchy Johnson said this week that the virus “still travels like a shark.”
At a press conference Friday, Johnson said, without a doubt, that the crash has saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. “But it also had a devastating effect on our lifestyle and economy.”
Johnson called the Britons to have fun, and said he plans to cut a pint and shaggy blonde locks this weekend. However, he also urged people to be careful and follow social distance rules.
“This is a big turning point for us,” he said. “We gotta do it right.”
When bars and restaurants reopen on Saturday, there will be something out of business as usual.
They will have to get their contact information for each group and people can socialize with only one household at a time. There will be more cleaning, no queuing and less capacity for a drink at the bar, and customers are told to stay at least one meter (three feet) away.
“I think the vast majority of pubs and restaurants are welcomed and opened,” said Jane Pendlebury, CEO of Hospitality Professionals Association Hospa. “Yet the restrictions make it difficult.
“And of course, the bar environment will be a very different mood of the restaurant environment,” he said.
Some bars are closed over the weekend, even longer. Still, the police questioned the wisdom of reopening pubs on a Saturday. Tim Clarke of the Metropolitan Police Federation warned that the weekend may be “as busy as policing on New Year’s Eve”.
A city in England will not participate in reopening. Leicester, with a population of 300,000, was locked up again this week due to the sudden increase in coronavirus infections. Non-essential shops were closed, and pubs and restaurants will not reopen on Saturday.
They are also closed to the north of the border in Scotland.
Johnson’s Conservative government is increasingly contradicting the virus-fighting strategy with First Secretary of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon. Scotland is controlling its own health policy and Sturgeon is more careful than UK officials to lift the deadlock. Bars in Scotland can open beer gardens from Monday, but cannot serve people indoors until July 15.
Scotland has not accepted the plan to end quarantine for travelers who are currently only valid for the UK.
The list of 73 countries and regions exempted from quarantine includes Australia, New Zealand and most of western Europe, although not Portugal or Sweden with relatively high infection rates. Also on the list are Asian countries such as South Korea and Vietnam, which have tamed their outbreaks, and several Caribbean countries, including Jamaica.
Some of these countries will still quarantine British visitors.
The USA, which has the largest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, is not listed. Not in China, Russia or Brazil.
The British government has also changed its official recommendation against compulsory travels outside the country. Starting Saturday, business or vacation travels have been organized to dozens of countries, including some such as Canada, which is not on the quarantine-free list. Britain still proposes to travel to the USA.
Sturgeon accused the British government of changing the list of safe countries up to the last minute.
“When it comes to so much as we are now, we cannot let ourselves be dragged after another government, we cannot allow a fairly clear, shambolic decision-making process,” he said.
Welsh leader Mark Drakeford also said that dealing with Johnson’s government on the travel plan is a “completely shambolic experience”.
Bharat Pankhania, an expert on infectious diseases at Exeter University School of Medicine, said the government sent “mixed messages”.
“The virus is still in circulation,” he said. “I am concerned that the enormous cost of locking, pain and suffering can be recovered very quickly.”
Britain’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said officials are trying to “balance multiple risks as much as we can.”
“Nobody believes … this is the next step without risk,” he said. “No way.
“This virus is already gone.”