“Can’t hug my nan but I can go on Nemesis Inferno with her,” wrote one Twitter user regarding his grandmother and a popular UK rollercoaster.
It means that relatives still can’t spend time inside others’ homes, but outdoor attractions, retail stores and places of worship can reopen in England from next week.
Meanwhile, the UK has recorded more than 50,000 coronavirus deaths, second only to the United States.
There is a wide discrepancy in approaches to the coronavirus by the world’s political leaders, some countries are lifting lockdowns as Covid-19 deaths continue to rise, and global health agencies are backtracking on their guidance. It’s hardly surprising that the situation might seem unclear.
Many English schools won’t return until September but students may be able to visit restaurants, hair salons and even pubs – if they are over 18 years old – much earlier. UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma said this week that the government’s ambition is to reopen these establishments from July 4.
It was also announced that single-adult households can form a “support bubble” with just one other household, but this does not include those with chronic conditions who are “shielding.”
Annabel James, co-founder of online community Age Space, said hundreds of people with elderly relatives had told her organization they were confused. “The rules have changed really fast in lots of different aspects of life,” she told CNN. “And I think for lots of people it’s trying to work out which rules relate to them in which circumstance, and how to interpret them. It’s very difficult, I think, for people to interpret.”
James said there were concerns over people returning to school or work while forming a bubble with a relative, and many were “actually being actively more cautious in their interpretation of the guidance.”
Vague government messages, plus the controversy over whether government adviser Dominic Cummings broke the lockdown rules, have seen some in the UK err on the side of caution while others take a much more relaxed approach.
Large groups have gathered in parks and at parties, many are not wearing masks (which only become mandatory on public transport from Monday), and thousands attended protests where social distancing is a challenge.
Public health experts warned last week that the UK government was moving too fast, too soon, by lifting so many measures, risking a second wave and the imposition of full lockdown.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he knew the changes were only incremental and it was “inevitable” people would find “apparent anomalies.”
He said the government had to move “slower than we would have liked in some areas,” including reopening schools, because the rate of infection was not yet low enough.
“We will continue to remain cautious and measure the effect of the changes that we make. And as I’ve always said, we won’t hesitate to apply the brakes if that is what the situation requires,” Johnson added.
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