Fri | Aug 14, 2020

UK scraps quarantine for some visitors as pubs set to reopen

Published:Friday | July 3, 2020 | 9:18 AM
In this Monday, June 8, 2020 file photo, passengers wearing face masks arrive at London's Heathrow Airport. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

LONDON (AP) — Boris Johnson wants a haircut and a beer.

Like millions of other Britons, the prime minister will be able to have a trim and a tipple on Saturday, when the country takes its biggest step yet out of lockdown with the reopening in England of restaurants, pubs and hairdressers, along with secular and sacred venues including cinemas and churches.

Britain is also opening up to travel, announcing Friday that it will scrap a requirement for people arriving from dozens of countries to spend 14 days in isolation.

Starting July 10, quarantine will be lifted for arrivals from about 60 countries deemed “lower risk” for the coronavirus, including France, Spain, Germany and Italy -- but not the United States, the world’s worst-hit country from COVID-19.

For isolation-weary Britons and cash-starved businesses, relief at easing the three-month lockdown is mixed with trepidation.

Britain has the highest COVID-19 toll in Europe, with almost 44,000 confirmed deaths, and scientists say the coronavirus is still on the loose.

The Office for National Statistics estimates there are 25,000 new infections a week in England. Even the usually ebullient Johnson said this week that the virus was “ still circling like a shark in the water.”

“My message is for people to enjoy summer sensibly and make sure it all works,” Johnson told LBC radio on Friday.

“Let’s not blow it.”

When pubs and restaurants reopen Saturday, it will be anything but business as usual.

They will have to take contact details for each group, and people can only socialise with one other household at a time.

There will be more cleaning, a ban on queuing at the bar for a drink, and reduced capacity, with patrons told to stay at least one meter (three feet) apart.

“I think the vast majority of pubs and restaurants are welcoming and opening with enthusiasm,” said Jane Pendlebury, chief executive of Hospa, the Hospitality Professionals Association. “Still, the restrictions are making it tough.

“And of course, the pub environment, the restaurant environment is going to have a very different vibe,” she said.

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