Coronavirus being over by summer is 'naive' says expert
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England and Wales have now been in lockdown three times in the past year, with Scotland and Northern Ireland entering full lockdowns twice. Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues are shut across all four nations, resulting in widespread misery for pub owners and punters alike.
However, pubs have potentially been earmarked to reopen again in the spring, with one Government source telling the Sun: “We will hopefully be sipping pints in the spring sunshine sooner rather than later.”
Any lifting of restrictions will be subject to falling coronavirus rates between now and the spring, with the R rate across the UK currently estimated to be around 0.8.
Pubs first closed back in March when the coronavirus pandemic first took hold across the UK.
They reopened on July 4 in England – after keeping doors closed for four months.
Summer across the UK had a semblance of normality as pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen, bolstered by Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out Scheme – which is now thought to have contributed significantly to rising cases across the country in the months that followed it.
Hospitality venues had originally been thought to be able to reopen in May, but the latest comments have sparked hope they could be opening doors before that.
A separate Government source said it was “looking good” and a path back to freedom can be plotted.
The minister said: “It is all going well.
“The rates are coming down, the numbers are looking good.
“We are on course for the roadmap.
“Outdoor ventilation is key. There are new mutations of the virus, but nothing changes how it spreads.”
They added: “We will be cautious, opening one thing to see how it goes before moving to the next.”
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Boris Johnson is set to outline his ‘roadmap’ out of the pandemic on February 22, amid falling coronavirus rates across all four nations of the UK.
Cases of the virus are dropping each week, but a high number of deaths are still being recorded.
It is hoped that the current coronavirus lockdown will be the last one, with the UK’s highly successful and fast-moving vaccination programme providing considerable hope that things will have changed by the time the summer comes around.
Elsewhere, pubs will be allowed to reopen on Jersey from February 22.
The Isle of Man has also declared itself free from coronavirus, meaning all restrictions have been lifted.
In terms of the first restrictions set to be relaxed in England, schools are expected to reopen for face to face teaching on March 8, in a limited capacity at least.
More than 116,000 people have died with the virus in the UK since the pandemic began.
There have been more than four million cases across the UK since the virus was first detected this time last year.
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