Shops, gyms, outdoor dining restart in Britain

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to “behave responsibly” as shops, gyms, hairdressers and restaurant patios re-open after months of lockdown.

Yesterday saw the easing of restrictions that have been in place in England since early January to suppress a surge in coronavirus infections linked to a more transmissible new variant of the virus.

British Retail Consortium Chief Executive Helen Dickinson said businesses were “excited and desperate” to welcome customers back.

At a hairdresser in Birmingham, customer Amy Smith said she was thrilled to be getting a trim at last. “It’s great to be here, I’ve been going with this weird little topknot for a few months now,” she said. “I’m going to go to a garden experience later, so it’s going to be good.”

Many people were planning outdoor meals, despite unseasonably cold weather that brought snow to London and many other areas.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – are following their own, broadly similar plans to ease lockdown.

Britain has had Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 127,000 confirmed deaths.

Customers dine on the rooftop terrace in Selfridges department store in London as coronavirus restrictions are eased across the country. PHOTO: AFP