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the English celebrate their deconfinement

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                After a lockdown of almost three months, England embarked on a major easing of restrictions.  Families and friends can now meet in outdoor spaces and many sports are allowed again.  Boris Johnson, however, urged his fellow citizens to be cautious.

                                    <p>Optimistic and even cheerful, Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the second stage of the gradual deconfinement of England which began on Monday, March 29.  A "Happy Monday", as the British media have dubbed it.

The English have regained some freedoms, including those of being able to take a dip, play golf or even meet friends in a park for a cup of tea. After reopening its schools on March 8, England now allows groups of up to six people or members of two different households to meet, but only outdoors, including private gardens. The practice of outdoor sports can also resume.

The British Prime Minister said he saw in this “Happy Monday” the opportunity to “kick off a great British sports summer”, wishing “people of all ages to find their teammates and resume the activities that They like”.

Some did not waste a minute to take advantage of it and from midnight, golf enthusiasts gathered at the Morley Hayes club, near Derby, in central England, for a night tournament for the benefit of an association . Other athletes swam among swans in Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park in London or in public outdoor pools, which remained closed for nearly three months. And as if to accompany this “Happy Monday”, the weather has improved significantly, offering Monday temperatures close to those of southern Spain at this time of year.

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A game of volleyball allowed at Clapham Common, London on March 29, 2021. © Reuters
    </div>Another reason for satisfaction with this new stage, weddings, so far reserved for exceptional cases, can resume, with six people maximum.

Travel abroad still prohibited

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Most non-essential businesses, however, remain closed. The long-awaited reopening of the terraces of pubs, bars and restaurants, as well as hairdressers, is normally scheduled for April 12. Boris Johnson, who has been showing a ruffled blond hair for weeks, was delighted in advance to be able to “finally” wear a new cup and drink a beer at the pub.

Travel abroad remains prohibited and will only be authorized from May 17 at the earliest.

If the British Prime Minister may have seemed delighted, he nevertheless called on his fellow citizens to be “careful.” “It is only through months of sacrifice and effort that we can take this small step towards freedom today. hui and we must proceed with caution, “said Boris Johnson.

Because if the United Kingdom recorded Sunday its lowest number of new cases for six months, it is according to Boris Johnson “inevitable” that the “wave” which falls on Europe will also result in the United Kingdom by a increase in contamination, hospitalizations and deaths.

We must therefore continue to “build our defense against this wave when it arrives”, he continued at a press conference, thanks to the massive campaign which made it possible to administer a first dose of vaccine to more than 30 million people, or almost 60% of the adult population. While the vaccine rollout is “impressive”, “we don’t know exactly how strong our fortifications are against another wave,” he conceded.

The number of daily deaths from Covid-19 has fallen on average below 100 in the United Kingdom, and new infections hover around 5,000 per day. But the easing will “inevitably” lead to an increase in cases, recognized the health authorities.

Despite his hopes, Boris Johnson does not rule out new confinement in the future. “We must remain humble in the face of nature and be prepared to do whatever it takes to protect” the British, he said.

The London police, meanwhile, recalled Sunday that “any large gathering” remained prohibited, saying they were ready to intervene quickly to put an end to private parties and raves.

A memorial made of hearts

Many Britons remain marked by this Covid-19 pandemic. And despite the vaccine race, the UK is the most bereaved country in Europe by the pandemic with more than 126,500 dead and devastating effects on its economy.

In London, the families of the Covid-19 dead have started painting a mural of nearly 150,000 hand-drawn hearts on the south bank of the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament in remembrance of those who have died. When completed, the fresco is expected to span over a kilometer.

<p>The group "Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice", which urges the government to open an investigation into the handling of the pandemic, said the mural was not intended to be "political or antagonistic" but rather, to provide a "visual representation" of each life lost.  “Like the scale of our collective loss, this memorial will be huge,” said Matt Fowler, co-founder of the group, who lost his father to the coronavirus.

With AFP and AP

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