Covid: Boris Johnson warns nation to 'behave responsibly' as lockdown in England eases

Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has urged the nation to "behave responsibly" as more of England's lockdown restrictions are lifted.

The prime minister won't be having a pint in a pub beer garden amid the period of mourning for Prince Philip, but he wants those attending outdoor hospitality settings to remember coronavirus restrictions are still in place.

The prime minister said: "I’m sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it’s a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed."

"I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ to suppress Covid as we push on with our vaccination programme."

Shops deemed non-essential will also reopen on Monday, as will hairdressers, indoor gyms, swimming pools, hairdressers, nail salons and zoos in another stride back towards normality.

Hairdressers in England, such as this one in Whitley Bay, are likely to be packed in the weeks ahead after they were allowed to reopen. Credit: PA

However, social mixing indoors will remain heavily restricted, with around 40% of adults yet to receive their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Mr Johnson urged caution during the "major step forward" as a scientist advising the government warned the rules must be followed to minimise a possible rebound in case numbers.

Along with postponing his celebratory pint, government communications have been pared back to essential messages following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on Friday.

Meanwhile, Wales will also enjoy renewed freedoms from Monday, with non-essential retail reopening and border restrictions eased to permit travel again with the rest of the UK and Ireland.

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Remaining school pupils will return to face-to-face teaching in Wales and Northern Ireland, in moves being echoed in Scotland as pupils return from their Easter breaks.

The "stay at home" order in Northern Ireland will also end as the number of people permitted to meet outdoors rises from six to 10.

Professor Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told Times Radio: "The watchword has got to be caution really."

He said: "It’s not clear exactly when or how big it will be, but there is, I think, inevitably going to be a bit of a rebound in the number of cases when things are relaxed."

The Oxford University academic said the vaccination programme will minimise hospital admissions and deaths but warned it will not be completely effective.

"Now the extent of it really depends on how well we comply with the ongoing restrictions so we really have to take this step by step," he added.

Pubs and restaurants have been making changes during lockdown to maximise their ability to serve customers outside.

But the British Beer and Pub Association estimates just 40% of licensed premises have the space to reopen for outdoor service.

Only outdoors hospitality areas will be allowed to open. Credit: PA Images

The previous 10pm curfew rule and the requirement to order a substantial meal with a drink have been scrapped, but social distancing must be observed.

The two metre rule will also apply in non-essential shops, which have seen huge queues form outside after the grand reopening.

Keen shoppers could be seen in spiralling queues outside Primark in Birmingham, with more waiting to get into JD Sports in Newcastle - scenes likely to be repeated around England for at least the next few days.

Domestic holidays can resume to an extent, with overnight stays permitted in self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets and campsites where indoor facilities are not shared.

Sales at Primark in Birmingham are likely to be sky high after it was allowed to reopen. Credit: PA

But these can only be used by members of the same household or support bubble.

International holidays remain banned until an unknown date, amid a row over the cost of testing.

Hairdressers and nail salons will be able to open their doors once again to tame lockdown locks, and some customers wasted no time to get their appointments in.

At the stroke of midnight, co-owner of beauty company Secret Spa Emily Ewart-Perks, hair stylist Nas Ganev and tan artist Magdelaine Gibson, visited a home in Balham, south London to offer their long-awaited services to clients Amy Pallister and Isabella Robinson.

“It’s so amazing. It’s just been such a long time coming,” Ms Ewart-Perks said.

“I know that our therapists are just so happy to be working with clients again.

“Everyone has really missed the social contact of the day-to-day job and making clients happy. We haven’t been able to do that for the best part of five-to-six months.”

Ms Pallister, who received the first hair cut of the day, said the return of beauty services could not have come sooner.

Tan artist Magdelaine Gibson sprays client Isabella Robinson, 27, just after midnight at her home in Balham, south London. Credit: PA

“(The haircut) feels amazing, I can’t stop touching it,” she said.

“(It’s been) about seven or eight months, since my last one, so I had some very split ends.

“I’m very impatient, so I didn’t want to wait. (I booked it) as soon as they could fit me in.”

People will not be allowed to visit each other’s homes, with socialising indoors still prohibited outside support bubbles.

It will be the third in a series of easings since the third national lockdown was legally imposed in England on January 6.

The next significant date is May 17, when socialising indoors will be permitted under the "rule of six" - if the Prime Minister judges that the vaccination programme is safely breaking the link between infections and deaths.