Two pints and a Full English, please! Jubilant Britons enjoy boozy breakfasts as pubs allow punters inside for first time since Christmas on ‘Freedom Day’
- Britons flood back to pubs and bars on Freedom Monday as restrictions lifted in England for indoor hospitality
- One man in Birmingham was pictured with a drink in each hand as he prepared to eat a full-English breakfast
- Others skipped food altogether and opted for ‘liquid breakfast’, as Britons rejoiced reopening of indoor areas
A full-English breakfast washed down with a pint – or two – was top of the menu for thousands of pub-going Britons as they flooded back to bars to enjoy a first taste of lockdown freedom.
Britons were today pictured pint-in-hand as they scoffed a cooked breakfasts in their local watering holes.
One man in Birmingham was even pictured with a drink in each hand as he prepared to tuck into a plate of bacon, eggs and beans at a local Wetherspoon.
Others ditched food altogether and opted for a ‘liquid breakfast’.
It comes as pubs in England were this morning given the green light to reopen indoor areas for the first time this year – in what is being dubbed ‘Freedom Day’.
Though ministers allowed hospitality business to reopen outdoor areas last month, thousands of pubs without outdoor areas have had to remain closed.
Alongside pubs and bars,restaurants and cafes also threw open their indoor areas today, as customers flooded back to enjoy a booze-free breakfast.
One social media user claimed he had knocked back five pints this morning after visiting a pub earlier this morning to enjoy a full English.
Another rejoiced: ‘Good morning. Better than that. It’s a great morning. I am going to the pub!! First time since October!’
A full-English breakfast washed down with a pint – or two – was top of the menu for thousands of pub-going Britons as they flooded back to pubs to enjoy a first taste of lockdown freedom
One man in Birmingham was even pictured with a drink in each hand as he prepared to tuck into a plate of bacon, eggs and beans at a local Wetherspoon
It comes as pubs were given the green light to reopen indoor areas for the first time this year – more than a month after ministers allowed the reopening of outdoor areas
David Drummond is the first to have a pint in his local Wetherspoons this morning at 9am
A customer enjoys an early pint at the Fox on the Hill pub in London as lockdown easing continues in the face of the threat of the Indian variant of Covid
Restaurants and cafes also threw open their indoor areas today, as customers flooded back to enjoy a booze-free breakfast
Wetherspoon was a particularly popular venue for pub-goers this morning. Here friends Simon Woods and Will Rix catch-up over breakfast
A customer enjoys a full English Breakfast at an indoor table at Jenn’s Diner, Redruth, in Falmouth, on the morning that cafes and restaurants reopen indoor areas for the first time this year
A table of customers are served full English Breakfasts at an indoor table at Jenn’s Diner, Redruth, on May 17, 2021 in Falmouth
Meanwhile, social media users unable to make the morning rush to the pub owed to visiting their local later this evening.
One said: ‘No Monday morning feeling here today. Early finish from work, day off tomorrow and INSIDE the pub later!!!’
Others rejoiced ‘Freedom Day’, with one saying: ‘Freedom day 2.0. What a day.’ Another put: ‘Happy freedom day.’
Another added: ‘I am going to the pub later, this is truly a wonderful day.’
The Monday rush to the pub comes amid fears from industry bosses that the UK could be struck by a beer shortage due to a sudden spike in demand.
Experts earlier last week revealed pub-goers would need to knock back a staggering 124 pints this summer to help watering holes recover from more than a year of closures and restrictions.
But, according to the boss of pub chain Young’s, a sudden spike in demand could spark a new problem for the lockdown-ravaged industry – a beer shortage – ahead of Monday’s big reopening.
It comes after pubs reported a shortage of Amstel and Birra Morretti when outdoor hospitality areas were allowed to reopen last month.
Patrick Dardis told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘I wrote to all the CEOs of all the brewers saying that ‘we’ve been through enough now, we are at the end of tunnel and the last thing we need is a problem with supply, so get your act together and brew like you’ve never brewed before, because it’s just not acceptable’.
He added: ‘As soon as the pubs start again we expect supply to be there.’
It comes as industry sources revealed to MailOnline last month that Moretti’s owner Heineken was temporarily limiting UK pubs to ordering only three kegs per week to cope with supply issues.
Pubs face a beer shortage ahead of Monday’s big reopening, as brewers struggle to keep up with the huge influx in demand, according to industry chiefs. Pictured: A barman pours a pint of beer in a pub
It comes after pubs reported a shortage of Amstel and Birra Morretti (pictured) when outdoor hospitality areas were allowed to reopen last month
Heineken UK told MailOnline last week that demand for Amstel (pictured)and Moretti had ‘totally surpassed our most optimistic forecasts’ and their breweries are ‘working round the clock’ to deal with the surge
Heineken UK told MailOnline last week that demand had ‘totally surpassed our most optimistic forecasts’ and their breweries are ‘working round the clock’ to deal with the surge
The issue is particularly potent for the 2,500 Star Pubs & Bars – owned by Heineken – offered them alternatives while increasing production of in-demand brands.
A Heineken UK spokesman told MailOnline last month: ‘Over ten million adults in England have headed back to the great British pub, with many treating themselves to a much missed draught pint.
‘Demand for Birra Moretti and Amstel has totally surpassed our most optimistic forecasts, and our breweries are working round the clock to deal with this high level of demand.
‘We are working with our customers to offer alternative beers from the extensive Heineken UK range of brands as we increase production.’
It comes as earlier this week fiance firm Company Debt revealed every Britain would need to drink 124 pints across the summer to return the industry to pre-pandemic levels.
According to the finance experts, the industry needs £25.66billion to get back to where it was before the Covid crisis.
The company said: ‘With the latest estimates suggesting that the UK’s food and beverage industry lost at least £25.66bn due to Covid-19 we wondered how much every person in the UK would need to spend in order to reach pre-pandemic levels.
‘In particular we wondered how far that money would go in pubs, one of the most beleaguered sectors.
Groups of people enjoy a drink on a Saturday evening in London’s Soho over the weekend
People sit in a pub garden in Canonbury, North London, in the sunshine last Friday
‘We came up with a figure of 124 per pints per adult, based on a figure of 52million adults in the UK.’
Meanwhile punters last month complained how the price of a pint has risen to £7 at some bars in London with pubs hiking prices by as much as £1.10 to claw back losses made during lockdown.
One punter said a single pint of Peroni has rocked by 60p from £6.40 to £7 in Roehampton, South West London, since the reopening on April 12.
Social media users also blasted the ‘shocking’ increase, claiming a Sam Smiths beverage has risen by £1.10.
The price hike follows breweries adding more than 12p a pint to brands including Budweiser, Stella Artois and Becks.
One consultant from a beer outlet said an increase of 4p to 5p is expected year on year, but labelled a rise of 9p as ‘absolutely ridiculous’, adding that over 12p is ‘just scandalous’.
In a letter seen by the MailOnline, drinks distributors G+G Gallo Enterprises listed price increases from suppliers that came into effect on April 5.
Among the lagers listed, Budweiser and Stella Four had the highest increase in price at 12.7p per pint, followed by Becks and Stella at 12p and Blue Moon at 9.5p (excluding VAT).
What can people in England do from May 17?
Can people come over to my house again?
Yes. Up to six people from multiple households or an unlimited number of people from two households will be allowed to visit you inside your house again.
Can people stay over at my house again?
Yes. People from outside your household will be allowed to stay overnight, as long as you stick to within the rule of six or two households.
Can I still meet people outside?
Yes. You will now be able to meet in groups of up to 30 people outside. Bigger groups will be illegal. Until May 17, you can still only meet outside in groups of six.
A member of bar staff wearing a face masks serves drink in a pub in East London in July 2020
Can I hug my friends and family again?
Yes. The Government has said you can hug ‘close friends and family’ from outside your own household – for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020.
However, people are being urged to be ‘exercise their own personal judgement in line with the risks.’ There is no legal definition on who ‘close friends and family’ are.
The Government also said wider social distancing rules will remain in place in adult social care, medical, retail, hospitality and business settings.
Can you sit inside a pub again?
Yes, indoor hospitality will resume – so you can sit inside a pub or restaurant with people from other households, as long as the rule of six (or two households) is met.
Will there be a substantial meal or curfew requirement for pubs?
No. As with step two on April 12, venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks; nor will there be a curfew.
An audience sit at the Pavilion theatre in Weymouth for a pantomime in December last year
Will you be able to stand at the bar?
No. Customers will still have to order, eat and drink while seated at a hospitality venue – even though they will now be allowed inside.
Will indoor entertainment venues now be allowed to reopen?
Yes. Cinemas, theatres, museums and indoor children’s play areas will all be allowed to reopen, but must follow guidelines on social distancing and face masks.
Concert halls, conference centres and sports stadia will also be allowed to reopen, with larger events in all venues able to resume with capacity limits (see below).
Will venues face capacity limits?
Yes. Larger performances and sporting events will be capped in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full, whichever is a lower number. For outdoor venues the cap will be 4,000 people or half-full – again, whichever is lower.
In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend – or a quarter-full, whichever is lower.
Football fans at Wembley Stadium at a pilot event for the FA Cup semi-final last month
Will social distancing and face masks rules remain for now?
Yes. The one-metre (3ft) rule remains in place in public settings such as pubs, shops and restaurants. You should wear a face mask when walking around these places.
What about children wearing masks in schools?
Secondary school children will no longer have to wear face masks in classrooms and corridors from May 17. However, those aged 11 and above will still be required to wear the masks in public settings such as shops, unless they have a medical exemption.
Ministers said infection rates among students and staff continue to decrease in line with wider community transmission, but twice weekly home testing will remain.
Will students be able to attend university lectures in person again?
Yes. All university students in England can return to campus next week for in-person teaching. They will be expected to get tested for Covid-19 twice a week.
Most students, apart from those on critical courses, were told not to travel back to term-time accommodation as part of the third national lockdown in January.
Students on practical courses, who require specialist equipment and facilities, began returning to face-to-face teaching on March 8. But it is estimated that about half of university students have not been eligible to return to in-person lessons.
Cinema-goers in their seats for a film at the Odeon Leicester Square in London last August
Can I go on holiday abroad again?
Yes, but with many restrictions. Last Friday, the UK Government cleared just 12 destinations for quarantine-free tourist trips for Britons from May 17.
However, many of the destinations are remote islands or have very strict entry measures or blanket bans on UK tourists, further reducing the list of options.
Portugal and Gibraltar are the only countries on the ‘green list‘ that most Britons will realistically be able to visit for a warm weather holiday this month.
You can technically also go on holiday to ‘amber list’ and ‘red list’ countries again too, but you will need to complete a period of quarantine as follows:
For amber list, you must quarantine at home for ten days on your return and take a PCR test on days two and eight – as well as a lateral flow test before the return flight.
Or there is an alternative option that you could pay for an additional ‘Test to Release’ on day five to end self-isolation early. There is also a chance the country turns red.
Those returning from a red list country must stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel for 11 nights upon their return at a cost of £1,750.
Will there be a new limit on wedding numbers?
Yes. Up to 30 people will now be able to attend weddings. This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Will funerals also now be limited to 30 people?
No. There will now be no limit of the number of mourners at funerals, although the venue must operate in a socially distanced way and within capacity guidelines.
Travellers arrive at London Heathrow Airport on May 3. Non-essential travel is set to reopen
Can you stay overnight somewhere with people from another family?
Yes. The rest of the accommodation sector will now reopen, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs – and people from different households can share the same room.
Up until May 17, if you want to stay at a hotel or self-catering accommodation, you must only do so with members of your own household or support bubble.
Can I go to indoor sport classes now?
Yes. All indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will be allowed again, five weeks after gyms were allowed to reopen under step two on April 12.
Will closed parts of leisure centres now be allowed to reopen?
Yes. Saunas and steam rooms will now be allowed to reopen, following on from swimming pools and gyms on April 12.
There will be no more limits on mourners at funerals. Above: File picture of a funeral last July
Will there be limits on numbers in support groups?
Yes. The Government has said 30 people will now be able to attend a support group or parent and child group. The limit does not include children aged under five.
Will restrictions on care home visiting be changed?
Yes. Care home visiting will be eased further, with residents able to have up to five named visitors and more freedom to make ‘low risk visits’ out of the home.
Will the guidance on working from home change?
No. People are still being advised to ‘continue to work from home where they can’.
Hugs with family and friends will be allowed again from May 17 (file picture posed by models)
What is the exact time that the rules change on May 17?
Unconfirmed. This is not yet clear, but the April 12 rule change towards step two came in at midnight, so it is likely this will be the same for May 18.
Are there businesses that still cannot reopen?
Yes. Nightclubs are the only businesses that must remain shut until at least June 21.
Is there a confirmed date for when all Covid rules will cease?
Not yet. The Government hopes that on June 21 it will be able to drop all legal limits on social contact, but this will be confirmed nearer the time.
Before this date, the Government will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures such as face masks and guidance on working from home.
All university students in England can return to campus next week for in-person teaching (file)
Why can we now move into Step 3 on May 17?
The Government has set four tests to further ease restrictions, which have now been met. These are that:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully;
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated;
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS;
- Assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.
It also comes after the UK Chief Medical Officers confirmed this morning that the UK Covid-19 alert level should move from level four to level three.
SAGE scientists urge caution as Freedom Day dawns: Experts warn hugging is ‘high risk’ and say they ‘won’t be going indoors’ while Indian variant remains on the rise as raft of lockdown measures end TODAY
By Martin Robinson for MailOnline
A slew of Boris Johnson’s top scientists today warned against socialising indoors and the ‘high risk’ of hugging friends with the Indian variant on the rise despite Britons now being free to go back inside pubs, restaurants and cinemas as well as stay with friends for the first time since Christmas.
The Prime Minister has also urged families to adopt a ‘heavy dose of caution’ and a minister encouraged revellers to avoid ‘excessive drinking’ amid an eight per cent rise in infections in a week and concerns the total scrapping of restrictions on June 21 is under threat.
In Bolton, a hotspot for the Indian variant, thousands more people than usual are being jabbed every day, with queues snaking outside health centres again today, as officials try to suppress the virus in an area where vaccine hesitancy has hampered efforts to slow its spread.
Last night thousands of people queued across the UK to enjoy a drink with friends inside pubs and bars after midnight, while this morning around 20 flights took off for Portugal as holidays became legal again and people enjoyed a pint and a meal inside for the first time in almost six months. Theatres, cinemas and museums can also open their doors again this morning.
But Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a senior member of the SAGE committee, said today that he would not meet indoors ‘at the moment’, despite millions of people now having the opportunity to do so.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I think it is reasonable to just be sensible about knowing where transmission is occurring, mostly indoors, mostly in larger gatherings indoors with lots of different people, different families, different communities, and I would just restrict that at the moment personally.’ But he added: ‘I don’t think it’s unreasonable to lift the restrictions – we do need to lift the restrictions at some point, we’ve been in restrictions now for a very long time.’
Hugging is a ‘high-risk procedure’, Professor Peter Openshaw said. The professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, who is a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told BBC Breakfast: ‘Some of us are quite happy not to be hugging and kissing many times on the cheek. This is a high-risk procedure, I would say in medical terms and I would certainly not be embracing people closely. I think you can greet people perfectly well at a distance with a smile and a kind word.’
Referring to today’s new freedoms, Professor Sir Mark Walport, England’s former chief scientific adviser who also sits on SAGE, claimed that just because people are legally allowed to do something doesn’t mean they should. He told the Guardian: ‘My personal judgement is that I will do things outside as far as possible. My advice is that just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.’
SAGE adviser Graham Medley, professor of infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, suggested people should avoid going to pubs or restaurants in areas with low vaccine uptake or high Indian variant case numbers.
He told LBC Radio he would only dine indoors if the establishment ‘was suitably organised and it looked okay and was in an area of low prevalence and the clientele was very old [and therefore mostly vaccinated].’ He added: ‘I’ll certainly hug my children and grandchildren and others very close to me. But will I be hugging strangers? No’.
Sir John Bell, emeritus professor of medicine at Oxford University and prominent SAGE member, urged people to use their newfound freedoms ‘cautiously’. He told The Times: ‘I don’t want to be a party pooper but the most important thing is not to prolong this any longer than we absolutely have to, so going about this cautiously could be quite helpful to everybody.’
While Dr Zubaida Haque, from Independent Sage, told BBC Essex that with the India variant in circulation, indoor mixing for the next 2-3 weeks ‘is a really dangerous idea’ and could lead to ‘thousands of hospitalisations’.
The scientists spoke out this morning after a guarded statement before revellers packed into pubs to celebrate the lifting of restrictions, where the Prime Minister said the emergence of the Indian strain of coronavirus meant the restored freedoms should be exercised carefully.
Tory MPs however called on Mr Johnson to reject warnings from scientists that lockdown curbs may have to remain in place longer because of the new variant. Britain recorded four new daily Covid deaths and 1,926 cases yesterday as Matt Hancock urged people to hug ‘carefully’ and get jabbed to prevent the new Indian strain spreading ‘like wildfire’.
Amid rising cases in pockets of the north-west because of the Indian strain of Covid, Mr Hancock said that most of the 18 people hospitalised in Bolton ‘haven’t had the jab but are eligible’, with the aim now to administer up to 1million jabs per days as soon as possible and encourage more people to take it.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has insisted he is ‘very confident’ all coronavirus restrictions will be eased on June 21 – before admitting there are ‘no cast iron guarantees’
Asked if the opening up this Monday was going too far, Professor Graham Medley told LBC: “Well that’s a Government decision, my job is …to kind of assess the risks, and then the Government’s job is to manage them.
“There has always been a risk that if we have another wave of infection between now and the end of the vaccination programme that we will end up with large numbers of people in hospital.
“This new variant does seem to be more transmissible, and so it’s just increased that risk a bit.”
He said there was “some suggestion” that vaccines might be slightly weakened against the Indian variant “but there’s no clear data to suggest that so I think we are working to the positive at the moment, that the vaccine is going to work.”
Huddersfield: Many bars opened at midnight to welcome customers inside for the first time in months as these revellers said cheers at 12.01am
Passengers prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro, Portugal, at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex after the ban on international leisure travel for leisure ended
The first BA passengers flying to Portugal head off from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 today as holidays became legal again
On whether he would go to a pub or restaurant indoors on Monday, he said: “If it was suitably organised, and it looks OK and I was in an area with low prevalence and the clientele was very old, then I would think ‘OK, fair enough, they’ve all been vaccinated’.
“I think it’s about individual risks and people taking that choice, which is different from what the Government has to do which is to avoid the risk of large numbers of people in hospital again.
There is a risk that the variant first identified in India could be transmitted by people travelling out of the UK, Sir Jeremy Farrar said.
The director of the Wellcome Trust told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Britain is a very connected, and very small country and the chance of local cases becoming regional and then regional becoming national is very clear.
‘And it is also connected internationally and I think that’s also a concern not only for importation of new variants coming into the country, but also people travelling out of the country – there is a risk that this variant B.617 could be transmitted from the UK now.
‘I think travel should still be very cautious and only when absolutely essential.
‘But the only way to stop these variants occurring is to drive down transmission.’
He added: ‘The biggest risk to countries like the UK – who have done very well with vaccine rollout – is variants arising from anywhere in the world and then spreading around the world when they have a biological advantage.
‘So driving down transmission in this country is essential, but so is it in the rest of the world, and that means driving down transmission and making vaccines available globally.’
Sir Jeremy warned that restrictions may have to be reversed if the new variant ‘escapes’ protection afforded to people by the Covid-19 vaccines.
‘The new variant that has come, the B.167, is becoming dominant in parts of the UK,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘Yet vaccination across the country has been extraordinarily successful.
‘I think we will see an increase of cases and infections over the coming weeks as some of the restrictions are lifted, but I think the key question is whether we have decoupled increased transmission and number of people who do get infected from the number of people that get ill and need to go into hospital or with long Covid.
‘If we’ve decoupled them, then I think the country can cope with a marginal degree of an increase in transmission.
‘So that is the key question and to be honest, we don’t know that today and that is why I think a very careful lifting is reasonable, but we may have to reverse that if there is escape from the vaccine.’
He added: ‘I just think we’re at this point where we’ve lifted restrictions, and yet we don’t have that full amount of information – I think it is reasonable to lift them today, but I do believe all of us need to be really, really careful.’
The government’s Covid dashboard showed there was an eight per cent increase in cases over last week, as most of the UK prepares to loosen Covid restrictions tomorrow.
The UK’s daily death toll has doubled on last week, from two on May 9 to four yesterday – bringing the UK total to 127,679 dead. There were a reported 129 people on ventilation in hospital in the UK and 991 people currently hospitalised due to virus, as of Thursday May 13 – the latest figures available.
Sunny Jouhal, General Manager of the lastminute.com London Eye, stands on top of a pod, 135 metres above the Thames to celebrate the re-opening of the attraction
From Monday, pubs, restaurants and cafes can serve customers indoors, cinemas and hotels can reopen and people can embrace loved ones from other households for the first time in more than a year.
But health experts have told Britons to ignore Government advice and stay outside, despite today’s relaxation of lockdown rules.
Professor Sir Mark Walport, a member of the Sage scientific advisory group, warned the pandemic was at a ‘perilous moment’ and it was ‘extremely important’ to keep a close eye on the numbers over the next few weeks.
‘My personal judgement is that I will do things outside as far as possible,’ he said. ‘My advice is that just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.’
When asked by Sky News’ Sophie Ridge if that meant he would be staying outside, he replied: ‘Outside for the moment, yes.’
And professor of public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Martin McKee, agreed, telling the Guardian: ‘Based on the precautionary principle and on the experience in earlier waves, I am very concerned. Personally I will not be going indoors in bars or restaurants for some time.
Matt Hancock insisted ministers would not allow the new variant to ‘spread like wildfire’ and suggested only the fully vaccinated should embrace, and even then outdoors.
And the Health Secretary infuriated travel firms by warning against trips abroad, despite today’s lifting of the ban on foreign holidays.
Sir Graham Brady, a senior Tory MP, urged the Prime Minister not to ‘panic’ over the new variant, which is still rare in the UK.
And his colleague Iain Duncan Smith said it was ‘bonkers’ to even consider further delays to reopening when evidence suggested existing vaccines worked against the Indian strain.
Today’s easing of Covid curbs is the biggest since the latest lockdown began in January.
Hotels and B&Bs can reopen to take advantage of the lifting of the ban on overnight stays while cinemas, museums and soft play centres can reopen their doors. The £5,000 fines for taking a foreign holiday will be scrapped.
Economists believe that families could splash out more than £800million this week as they celebrate the chance to meet loved ones again for the first time in months.
However Mr Johnson warned: ‘Together we have reached another milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown, but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution.
‘We are keeping the spread of the variant first identified in India under close observation and taking swift action where infection rates are rising.’
A week ago he declared Britain was on track to lift all remaining Covid curbs on June 21. But he rowed back from the pledge on Friday, saying the emergence of the new variant meant there was now ‘a real risk of disruption’.
The dramatic shift in tone followed a warning from government scientists that the fast-spreading variant could spark a surge in cases, especially with the resumption of indoor socialising.
Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, said early data on the effectiveness of the vaccines on the Indian variant looked ‘OK’.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain said: ‘People are getting in a panic about this new variant, when we should be celebrating the fact that the vaccines work – it is bonkers.
‘Ministers have to avoid the Corporal Jones mentality, tell the scientists to get back to their labs and get on with giving people back their freedom.’
With the Foreign Office now advising against travel to Israel, Portugal is the only sizeable ‘green list’ destination for British travellers looking to use their new freedom.
Government sources said the release of an updated version of the NHS app did not mean Covid passports would be introduced domestically.
Those who are eligible for a vaccine in Bolton are being urged to take up the offer to guard against the Indian variant, the Business Secretary said.
Kwasi Kwarteng said he did not want to ‘stigmatise people’ over alleged vaccine hesitancy, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘What we are trying to do in Bolton is encourage people who haven’t taken the vaccine to do so.
‘I think that is being more effective – certainly at the beginning of the year, there was a certain degree of resistance to taking the vaccine.
‘We’re not exactly where we want to be among certain communities but I think the take-up has been much greater in the last few months and more and more people are convinced that this is the way to keep themselves and their families safe.’
He added: ‘I would urge them (those who are eligible) very clearly to take up the vaccine.’
Mr Kwarteng defended the Government’s timing when adding India to the red list of countries where returning travellers are required to quarantine in a hotel, and said he was ‘very confident’ vaccines would protect against the variant first discovered in the South Asian country.
Asked whether the UK was ‘too slow’ to close its borders to India, the Business Secretary told LBC radio: ‘I don’t think we were.
‘India was put on the red list on April 23 – before the variant was even identified we could see that there was something wrong.
‘And even if you arrived from India before April 23, you had to have a quarantine and there were measures in place to restrict the danger.
‘It is easy with hindsight to say things could have been better or quicker and all the rest of it, but I think there was a balanced approach.
‘I think April 23 was fairly early – a month ago nearly – and we’ve managed to contain this variant, partly – principally actually – because of the rollout.
‘The rollout has been very successful, something like 36 million people so far have had the first dose, 20 million have had two doses, and we are very confident that the vaccination will deal with the Indian variant as it has done with other variants of coronavirus.’
Dr Helen Wall, who is leading the vaccination effort in Bolton, said that over the weekend more than 6,200 vaccines were administered in the area.
Long queues of people were seen waiting for vaccines in the region – which is one of the places where the new variant of concern first identified in India has been spreading.
‘We’re seeing people coming forward that clearly had the option to have the jab for some time – older people, disabled people – and they’ve chosen to come forward now,’ Dr Wall told BBC Breakfast.
‘I think in part that’s because we brought this into the community as a trusted place, but also the things that are going on in Bolton are quite worrying for people and I think that’s given some push to people coming forward now for the vaccine.’
She said before the weekend there were around 10,000 people in the area in the highest priority groups – those deemed to be clinically vulnerable and the over-50s – who were yet to be vaccinated, but added: ‘I’m hoping that we’ve made a big dent into that now’.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said there were ‘concerns’ about small numbers of older people who are yet to take up their vaccine offer.
‘The biggest risk comes from, if there are large numbers of older people who are unvaccinated,’ he told Times Radio.
‘Now the good news is we’ve done very well with the vaccine take-up but there is a very small number who are eligible for the vaccine, who actually haven’t taken it and surprise, surprise, as the Secretary of State was saying yesterday, that’s the majority of cases that we are now seeing.
‘And as he said there were five people who’ve had a single dose in hospital, and only one person who’s had a double dose – so that does suggest that Sir John Bell is correct when he says that actually the vaccine is really efficacious.
‘The real issue is that we know that there are communities of people who haven’t been vaccinated and who are eligible – and we know there’s a link for example to deprivation, we know there’s a link to ethnicity.’
A coronavirus vaccine should be given to younger people in those parts of the country where the Indian variant is causing concern, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said.
He said he has asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi for the ‘flexibility to give younger people the vaccine in those parts of London concerned about this strain’.
Case rates in Bolton are over 12 times the current national average, and the high number is being attributed to the Indian variant of the virus, which has led to a vaccination speed up
The National Youth Choir of Scotland, with founder and conductor Christopher Bell meet on Calton Hill, Edinburgh. Most of Scotland moves to Level 2 restrictions enabling up to 30 people to meet outside to sing
A table of customers are served full English Breakfasts at an indoor table at Jenn’s Diner, Redruth
A member of staff serves food to customers at the Northwestern pub in Liverpool
Wetherspoons in Leeds opened its doors at 8am as indoor restrictions are eased today
Mr Khan told Sky News that ‘what we are saying is be nimble in those pockets where we know there is an issue, let’s use the vaccine sensibly’.
He added there should be a ‘hyper-local approach’ in affected boroughs which should include ‘those who are younger, who would have to wait a few weeks, to have this vaccine now to avoid the strain spreading’.
Mr Khan urged people to test regularly and told the programme that ‘the virus isn’t rigid and doesn’t follow rigid rules and we have got to be nimble in our response to it’.
Mr Khan has also urged people to ‘support British business’ as lockdown rules ease.
He told Sky News: ‘We have begun the biggest domestic tourism campaign London has ever seen encouraging Londoners to come back to the West End and encouraging those across the country, who maybe a bit crestfallen that they cannot go on their international holidays, ‘don’t worry everything you need is in London’.’
He said ‘this is probably the only spring and summer where you are not competing against international tourists’ for museum, gallery or restaurant bookings.
He told the programme: ‘It is important that we of course have a good time, stay safe but also protect jobs.
‘The reality is that one out of five Londoners works in hospitality or culture and so you can safely have a great time and also support British business.’
A senior Government minister has urged people not to booze too heavily on the first day of being permitted to eat and drink inside pubs again.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told LBC radio: ‘What the Prime Minister has said very clearly is, yes, we are opening partially ahead of June 21 but we’ve got to behave sensibly, we’ve got to exercise some caution because if people get too carried away, we could jeopardise the ability to reopen on June 21.’
Asked how people could exercise caution at the pub, the Cabinet minister said: ‘It is fairly clear to me in terms of common sense that what you can do is socialise in a normal way but obviously we advise ordinarily against excessive drinking, endangering people, getting too many large groups together if that can be avoided.
‘That’s what he means, that we need to be cautious because if we get too carried away and the mutant variant spreads too quickly, that could endanger our ability to open up on June 21.’
Sheffield: Students wait outside a bar in West Street as it prepares to serve customers after midnight to mark the latest lifting of lockdown measures
Coventry: Customers enjoy a game of pool and hugging at the The Oak Inn as indoor hospitality and entertainment venues reopen
Just after 1am in the Showtime Bar in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, as indoor hospitality and entertainment venues reopen to the public
Door-to-door Covid ‘hit squads’ are heading to Bolton and Blackburn, where the Indian strain is at its most virulent, to focus on areas with the greatest ‘vaccine hesitancy’. Pictured: A queue for the jabs at the pop up centre in Bolton
At The Ivy restaurant in Richmond upon Thames 90 people booked a table for breakfast, taking their seats when it opened at 9am.
More than 200 others had booked for lunch and dinner with the upmarket restaurant expected to be full for the rest of the week.
Café owners in the Thames riverside town were also awaiting a flood of customers during the lunch time trade.
Livia Sanbor, a waitress at the Portofinio Café, said she cannot wait to be back serving.
‘I have missed it so much. I have missed talking to the customers and mixing with the other staff. It has been a long four months with the café closed and we just want to get back to doing what we all love.’
Marionn Major, general manager of the Debraggio restaurant, checked in fresh supplies of food from a delivery truck as she prepared for opening.
‘We have been closed for five months but have spent the last week getting ready and we have many bookings.
‘I do think people will want to come back inside and enjoy a meal.’
At the Oli and Ben café customers Danny John said he was happy to be able to sit inside and have a coffee and sandwich.
‘It makes a change to be able to drink a cup of coffee from a cup and not a paper cup and walk along the street,’ he said.
‘I do think as long as people are sensible then the latest loosening of restrictions will go smoothly. There is so much talk about the Indian variant that it might put people off.’
Café owner Marcio Petrone said:’ I think it will be mostly elderly people who will enjoy being able to sit down and have a coffee. Not everyone wants to walk around with a coffee.’
With limited pavement space few cafes in the town had been able too offer seats outside and the poor, wet weather since April 17th meant many were empty during the peak periods.
Mauro Dellabuono opened Bone Daddies Noodle Bar last October only to see the restaurant forced to close within weeks due to the latest lockdown measures.
He has been busy preparing the restaurant for its new opening but will only be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity due to social distancing measures.He said: ‘It will be so good to have customers back in the restaurant.’
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