Calls for Brits to have ‘heavy dose of caution’ as indoor lockdown rules ease

Brits have been warned to have a "heavy dose of caution" as indoor lockdown rules ease from today amid concerns over the Indian Covid variant.

From today, (Monday, May 16), pubs and restaurants will be able to welcome punters indoors and friends and families can socialise inside homes.

The current foreign holiday ban will also end as the third stage of the roadmap out of lockdown comes into place.

Boris Johnson has said "now everyone must play their part," as England pushes ahead to ease social distancing rules.

Hugs and physical contact between households will be permitted for the first time since restrictions began more than a year ago – bringing families together and allowing Brits to shack up for casual sex.

The lockdown rules are being eased as scientists warn of a "perilous moment", with the rampant Indian coronavirus variant feared to be as much as 50% more transmissible than the Kent strain that raged last year in the south east.

In a statement, Mr Johnson said: “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.

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“We are keeping the spread of the variant first identified in India under close observation and taking swift action where infection rates are rising.”

He said the “current data does not indicate unsustainable pressure on the NHS”, and that second vaccine doses are being accelerated to give the greatest protection to the most vulnerable.

“But now everyone must play their part – by getting tested twice a week, coming forward for your vaccine when called, and remembering hands, face, space, and fresh air,” he added.

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“I urge everyone to be cautious and take responsibility when enjoying new freedoms today in order to keep the virus at bay.”

The Government hopes vaccines and surge testing will allow the nation to open up safely with Covid jabs set to be extended to over-35s this week.

Matt Hancock, health secretary, did not rule out the possibility of imposing local lockdowns to tackle the Indian variant.

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He also warned it could "spread like wildfire."

He added there are more than 1,300 cases of the Indian variant which is "relatively widespread in small numbers" and becoming the "dominant strain" in hotspots like Bolton and Blackburn.

But he said there is "new very early data" from Oxford University giving confidence that existing vaccines work against the new mutation.

“That means that we can stay on course with our strategy of using the vaccine to deal with the pandemic and opening up carefully and cautiously, but we do need to be really very vigilant to the spread of the disease,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday.

“We have a high degree of confidence that the vaccine will overcome.”

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Hotels, B&Bs, and cinemas will also be allowed to reopen on Monday, as the rule of six will be applied to indoor meetings.

More than 20million people have received both doses of the Covid jab, covering 38% of adults in the UK, and 69% have received at least one dose.

Sir John Bell, Oxford's regius professor of medicine told Times Radio that the vaccine is "not perfect" but there is only "a slight reduction in the ability to neutralise the virus".

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