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Cautious cuddling? England to OK hugs as lockdown eases

In England, it is going to be time to hug once more.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is predicted to give the go-ahead for that much-missed human contact when he broadcasts the subsequent spherical of lockdown easing later Monday within the wake of a pointy fall in new coronavirus infections.

The UK is now recording round 2,000 new coronavirus instances a day, in contrast with a each day peak of practically 70,000 in January. Daily deaths have additionally plummeted with solely two recorded on Sunday.

The nation’s alert degree was additionally lowered to degree three from 4 on Monday following a “consistent” fall in instances, hospital admissions and deaths. This signifies that transmission of the virus is not deemed to be excessive or rising exponentially, although nonetheless being basically circulation.

While hugs between households shall be allowed once more starting May 17, Johnson is predicted to stress that they need to be accomplished with care, given considerations about new virus variants that might bypass a few of the immunity supplied by Britain’s profitable vaccination marketing campaign.

Johnson can be anticipated to verify that totally different households shall be in a position to combine indoors in properties as nicely as in pubs and eating places. However, the gatherings are to be capped at six folks or two totally different households if that’s greater. The limits on outside gatherings are anticipated to be raised to 30 folks.

Indoor leisure actions such as cinemas, tender play areas, grownup group sports activities, train lessons and motels are additionally anticipated to reopen.

Since the lockdown began to be eased in current weeks as a part of a plan the federal government insists is being pushed by “data, not dates,” the blending of households was solely allowed outside, such as in a backyard or restaurant patio, supplied that social distancing was adopted.

“I think it’s what most people have missed, that intimate contact with family and friends, and entertaining, having people in your own house, meeting outdoors,” Health Minister Nadine Dorries said.

The government has allowed some foreign travel to start on May 17 but only a handful of destinations are deemed safe enough to ditch the 10-day quarantine requirements upon return. Portugal and Iceland now have no quarantine requirements but other popular destinations such as France, Italy, Spain and Greece will still require quarantining and a series of coronavirus tests.

Similar restrictions are being eased in the other parts of the UK — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — following a sharp fall in new infections as a result of a long winter lockdown and the rapid rollout of vaccines.

Although the UK has recorded Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll, with more than 127,500 dead, new infections have dropped dramatically. In addition, the success of Britain’s vaccine rollout has raised hopes that this easing will not see the same virus resurgence that happened last fall following a lifting of restrictions during the summer.

Around 53% of the British population have received one dose of vaccine while more than a quarter have had two jabs — one of the speediest vaccine rollouts in the world.

The ensuing round of lockdown easing is expected on June 21. The hope is that all other limits on social contacts will be lifted then.

Though the coronavirus backdrop is clearly much improved, there are concerns that the government is being overly hasty with lifting the restrictions on social contact at a time when some parts of the world, such as India, are in the midst of a huge resurgence of the virus, and the vaccine rollout still has a way to go.

Gurch Randhawa, a professor of diversity in public health at the University of Bedfordshire, is one who’s wary, and cautioned about potential mixed messaging coming from the government.

“It is no doubt tempting to relax social distancing, offer the glimmer of a much needed hug, and lift restrictions on international travel, but this could be a big mistake at this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

“As a minimum, the government should be advising only those have received both vaccination doses to be hugging each other, and even, a short hug, with faces directed away from each other to minimize risk of Covid-19 transmission,” he added.

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