BORIS Johnson tonight announced pubs, shops, and hairdressers will all reopen on April 12 as the UK takes its first major step out of lockdown.
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Boris Johnson has announced pubs, shops, and hairdressers will reopen next MondayCredit: Sky News
The PM said he’s desperate to get a pint when watering holes reopen
Speaking at a Downing St press conference, he said: “The net result of your efforts and the vaccine rollout is I can today confirm that from Monday 12 April we will move to step two of our roadmap reopening shops, gyms, zoos, holiday camp sites, hairdressers and beer gardens, and outdoor hospitality of all kinds.
“And on Monday 12, I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips.”
In another boost to families desperate to get their old lives back, Boris said he expected to restore more freedoms as planned on May 17 and June 21.
He said: “We set out our roadmap and we’re sticking to it. We see nothing in the present data that makes us think we will have to deviate from that roadmap.
“But it’s by being cautious, by monitoring the data at every stage, and by following the rules that we hope together to make this roadmap to freedom irreversible.”
More than 31.5 million adults have been given the Covid vaccination so far, the latest figures show.
Mr Johnson said “life will begin to get back to some semblance of normality” this summer, if the jabbing blitz continues to go well.
Despite the announcement Tory MPs continued to heap pressure on the PM to speed up the unlocking of the country.
Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, said: “It’s welcome that the PM has confirmed the next stage of the roadmap will proceed on 12 April.
“It is disappointing though that he is ‘sticking to the roadmap like glue’ when the data suggests it could safely go faster rather than being tied rigidly to the dates.
“It continues to be a process driven by dates, not data.”
Pubs and restaurants in England will be able to serve customers outside, while still respecting rules on social distancing and mask wearing, from next Monday.
Many landlords have reported bookings are already at unprecedented levels as thirsty punters flock for their first chance to eat and drink out since lockdown was imposed.
The PM has ditched hates rules like the 10pm curfew and the farcical substantial meal requirement that saw diners forced to order Scotch eggs and bowls of chips with their pints.
But social distancing measures will still have to remain in place, meaning pubs will be table service only and groups will be capped at a maximum of six people.
Bedraggled Brits will also finally be able to get their unruly lockdown barnets under control as hairdressers, barbers, and beauty salons reopen next Monday.
And in a major boost to the High Street all non-essential retail like clothes shops and electronics stores will open their doors once more to customers.
Indoor leisure and sports facilities like gyms, swimming pools, and spas will also be able to reopen for individual treatments and workouts, but with strict Covid measures in place.
In a boost to pressed-upon parents much outdoor entertainment including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas will also return.
Public buildings like libraries and community centres will reopen to the public with social distancing and capacity limits in place.
Families will finally be able to leave their neighbourhood and visit other parts of the country overnight.
People who make the getaway must stay in self-contained accommodation with their bubbles.
High Street shops will also be allowed to reopen next weekCredit: Reuters
Bedraggled Brits will be able to get a haircut when barbers reopenCredit: Getty
Next Monday will also see another relaxation in social mixing rules, with children allowed to take part in indoor activities again including sport.
Parent and child groups of up to 15 people, not counting kids aged under five, can restart indoors.
Meanwhile the number of guests allowed at weddings, receptions, and wakes will increase to 15, while the maximum allowed at funeral services will be upped to 30.
And rules on care home visits are also being relaxed, with each resident now allowed to see two people each.
Greg Mulholland, campaign director of the Campaign for Pubs said: “It’s good news and a big relief that the Prime Minister has confirmed that pubs will be able to open outdoors from Monday.
“Pubs and publicans look forward to opening and welcoming customers back, whether in April for those that can open outdoors or in May, for those that need to wait till they can open indoors.
“Pubs will continue to need support until they can open normally again, but this is a positive step.”
The Government has said each stage of unlocking hinges on the success of the jabs programme and data relating to Covid deaths, hospitalisations and new variants.
And Brits are being urged to stick with social distancing measures, including the rule of six, and carry on working from home whenever they can.
International holidays are also still illegal, and sun-seekers are being urged not to book with the pandemic situation in Europe a serious concern.
Last week the PM insisted he couldn’t wait to get his hair cut and then head down to the pub for a pint once the rules are relaxed.
He said: “In just a few days’ time, I’m finally going to be able to go to the barbers.
“But more important than that, I’m going to be able to go down the street and cautiously, but irreversibly, I’m going to drink a pint of beer in the pub.
“And as things stand, I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love.”
Lockdown was eased in Scotland yesterday, with hairdressers, garden centres and homeware shops back open.
Wales has already let non-essential shops reopen and eased travel restrictions but will have to wait until April 26 for pubs.
During his press conference tonight Boris also hailed a new amass testing blitz for everyone in England as the way to irreversibly end the lockdown.
Under the plan twice-weekly free rapid Covid test will be available by Friday in a huge boost for our freedom.
People will be able to collect or order batches of their free Covid tests – which provide results in just minutes – whether they have symptoms or not.
So far the rapid kits have been mainly aimed at office staff and those who have to leave their homes to work, alongside the NHS and schools.
But everyone will soon be able to order kits at home, get them through their workplaces, at schools, or via the network of testing centres which has been set up across the country.
A pharmacy collect service will also be launched. The kits will be available from Friday onwards with a fresh marketing campaign urging people to take part.
But there have been fears the system, which will use less accurate lateral flow tests, could end up with thousands of Brits wrongly told to quarantine.
Around one in every thousand of the self-administered swabs used can produce a false positive result.
Health minister Ed Argar said he expected returning office workers to be amongst the first to use the new tests on offer from employers, and defended their accuracy.
He said: “The more people who are taking these tests the better because this is about trying to get people back to work, getting our society reopened, which we all want to see done as swiftly and safely as it can be done.
“That is still a highly accurate test which can play a really important part in reopening our country and our businesses, because it is so simple to take.”