Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopened in England yesterday in the biggest easing of the coronavirus lockdown yet.
Tens of thousands of businesses south of the border welcomed customers back after more than three months of closure.
Couples also tied the knot and cinemas reopened as lockdown restrictions were lifted on so-called Super Saturday.
An estimated 15 million pints were poured at 23,000 establishments across England yesterday. However, public health expert Devi Sridhar warned that the move could affect Scotland’s efforts to become coronavirus-free.
Scotland is lifting its lockdown rules more slowly, with outdoor beer gardens opening tomorrow and indoor areas from July 15.
UK ministers urged drinkers not to get carried away with the new freedoms in England and Health Secretary Matt Hancock also said he would not “shirk” from shutting pubs and restaurants again, and imposing local lockdowns, if needed.
He warned: “I’m no killjoy, but the virus can still kill. I don’t want to see bars and pubs having to close again. I love going to the pub and I enjoy a pint or two.”
Beauty spots in England also faced a huge influx of visitors after travel restrictions were eased, with an estimated 10 million motorists hitting the road yesterday. The worst congestion was in Exeter where caravans were stuck in a huge traffic jam on the M5.
Travel restrictions are still in place in some areas of Scotland, and residents in parts of Dumfries and Galloway were not allowed to travel to England.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Friday the five-mile rule would stay in place in Annan, Gretna, Dumfries, Lockerbie, Langholm and Canonbie as testing continued following a cluster of infections. It had been suggested the outbreak had been caused by a hot tub party, but this was denied by the Scottish Government.
There were 11 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Scotland yesterday and zero deaths of people who have tested positive for the virus. The number of people who have died after being confirmed to have the virus remains at 2,488. There were 429 patients in hospital on Friday night, including 19 in intensive care.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It’s time to take extra care, not drop our guard.”
Prof Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, warned that pubs were the biggest threat to Covid-19 spreading. She said: “A Scotland without Covid can only happen with England’s co-operation. Pubs will open in Scotland in two weeks when it is much safer to go out.”
Police Scotland said they would be carrying out daily patrols as part of the force’s summer campaign against drink and drug driving and reminded drivers the legal limit for alcohol is lower than in England.
Assistant chief constable Gary Ritchie said: “We recognise people have made significant sacrifices but we would ask them to continue to comply with the regulations.”
Meanwhile, Prince Charles said he hoped the country’s “entrepreneurial spirit” would help the hospitality sector bounce back.
The Prince of Wales also spoke about how staff employed by his Prince’s Foundation had been affected. He said: “I know full well from the enforced closure of properties run by my foundation, both in Aberdeenshire and East Ayrshire, let alone the complete disruption of all charitable enterprises at Highgrove, just how far-reaching the effects of the lack of trading can be.”
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