UK PM urges caution as outdoor meet-ups, sports resume in England
London (UK), March 30: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday urged the public to remain cautious as outdoor get-togethers and sports resumed in England.
As the next step of the British government's "roadmap" exiting the lockdown, two households or groups of up to six are now allowed to meet outside, including in private gardens, and outdoor team sports are reopening from Monday.
The Monday move marks the second easing of the lockdown, imposed across England in early January, after schools reopened to all pupils on March 8.
"We must remain cautious," said Johnson, as the "stay at home" slogan was officially scrapped at midnight and replace with "stay local".
"We have got to remain humble in the face of nature and we have got to be prepared to do whatever it takes to protect the British public,," he said.
"Today marks the next stage of our roadmap to cautiously ease restrictions in England. As vaccines are being rolled out it's vital that we don't overdo it and risk all the progress we've made," he said on Twitter.
Under the new measures, people should still work from home if possible and minimize their journeys.
From April 12, non-essential retail, as well as restaurants and pubs -- if serving people outdoors -- will be allowed to reopen in England.
In further positive developments, London on Monday recorded its first day in six months without a COVID death, and British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the "door is not shut" on foreign holidays this summer.
Meanwhile, England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told a virtual Downing Street press conference that the "wall of vaccination" will get stronger once people receive their second doses.
"But it is not a complete wall, it is a kind of leaky wall," Whitty said. "Therefore, there will always be some people who either have chosen not to be vaccinated, or where the vaccine has had much less effect."
At the same time, Johnson also defended the police's work in enforcing coronavirus regulations, saying that "they will continue to do their best but it depends -- more than it depends on the police, it depends on general public understanding of what we have all got to do."
On Feb. 22, Johnson announced his "roadmap" exiting the lockdown, the third of its kind since the start of the pandemic. The March 8 reopening of schools was first part of the four-step plan which is expected to see all legal restrictions in England being removed by mid-June.
On Sunday, Stephen Powis, national medical director of National Health Service (NHS) England, warned that Britons should not "squander the gains" made against coronavirus in recent months.
Coronavirus could still "wreak more havoc and ill-health on a significant scale", he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph, citing concerns over variants.
The NHS England has warned that Britain is going to face a "significant reduction" in vaccine supplies from Monday onwards. But the government insisted the country is "on course" to meet its target of offering a first dose to the top nine priority groups, including the over-50s, by April 15 and all adults by the end of July.
Another 3,862 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 4,333,042, according to official figures released Sunday.
The country also reported another 19 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain stood at 126,592. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.
More than 30.1 million people, around 57 percent of all adults in Britain, have been given the first jab of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest official figures.
To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Russia, the United States as well as the European Union have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.