UK’s not so united easing of lockdown

By Remei Calabuig

Edinburgh, UK, Jul 7 (efe-epa).- The easing of the United Kingdom’s Covid-19 lockdown is moving at different paces in its constituent nations as pub-goers can already enjoy a pint in England and Northern Ireland while those in Scotland and Wales will have to wait until later this month.

Scottish cafes and pubs with outside seating were allowed to reopen this week and, like Wales, its devolved government withdrew the eight kilometer travel limit for non-essential journeys.

However, authorities in both Scotland and Wales have decided to hold back on fully reopening the tourism and hospitality industries, and their beauty salons and hairdressers, until the so-called third phase of de-escalation, which is due to come into effect on Friday.

Pubs in Northern Ireland reopened on Friday. In England, they were allowed to reopen from 6am on Saturday, an occasion that brought people out to the establishments in their hundreds in places like Soho in central London.

Images from the scene showed sparse attention to social distancing measures.

Several pubs in England have been forced to temporarily close again after several customers tested positive for coronavirus and others have shut their doors to disinfect the premises.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a UK-wide lockdown on 23 March but the dismantling of the restrictions was handed to devolved powers in each of the UK nations.

The process has not always been frictionless. The question of air bridges to kickstart tourism has created tensions between England and Scotland, given the latter’s reticence to accept flights from countries that have been badly affected by Covid-19.

Johnson’s Conservative Party government in Westminster has announced that arrivals from 59 countries, including Spain, Italy, France and Greece, will from 10 July no longer have to observe 14 days of self-quarantine once in England.

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