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Britain eases COVID-19 rules after 175 days of maximum lockdown

Britons are seen at a COVID-19 vaccination center in London, Britain, on February 10. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
Britons are seen at a COVID-19 vaccination center in London, Britain, on February 10. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

April 12 (UPI) -- For the first time in six months, many facets of public life in Britain are being allowed to resume on Monday -- like pubs, retail stores, gyms and salons -- as the country eases a good share of COVID-19 restrictions.

Monday's is the first step on a path Britain hopes will lead to a full reopening in June. According to researchers at Oxford University's Blavatnik School of Government, Britain has spent 175 days at "maximum stringency" lockdown level.

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After Britain's maximum level took effect in October, no other country has lived under greater restrictions for a longer period of time.

Amid its restrictive measures intended to slow transmission of the coronavirus disease, Britain has seen its worst economic recession in 300 years but has also seen about half of all Britons receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. About 11.2% have been fully vaccinated, British health officials say.

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"Today is a major step forward in our roadmap to freedom as venues such as shops, hairdressers, nail salons, outdoor attractions, and pubs and restaurants open once again," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday, according to The Guardian.

"I'm sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else, it's a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed."

Johnson warned that residents must still remain outside while socializing and follow physical distancing rules so the reopening plan can continue.

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"The modeling, which is now pretty good, does show that we can expect some kind of rebound," Peter Horby, chair of Britain's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, told Times Radio.

"It's not clear exactly when or how big it will be but there is, I think, inevitably going to be a bit of a rebound in the number of cases when things are relaxed."

The next phase of Britain's reopening plan is scheduled for May 17.

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January 31, 2020
National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci (C) speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar (L) announced that the United States is declaring the virus a public health emergency and issued a federal quarantine order of 14 days for 195 Americans. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

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