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Pubs and restaurants reopen in England as lockdown eased

England is embarking on Saturday on perhaps its biggest lockdown easing yet as pubs and restaurants have the right to reopen for the first time in more than three months.

In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector, couples can tie the knot once again, people can go and see a movie at their local cinema and many of those who have had enough of their lockdown hair can finally get a trim. In all cases, social distancing rules have to be followed.

Though the easing of the lockdown will be warmly welcomed by many, there are concerns that the British government is being overly hasty, even reckless, in sanctioning the changes, given the country's still-high coronavirus infection and death rates.

Britain's Prince William uses hand sanitiser as he enters The Rose and Crown pub in Snettisham, England, Friday July 3, 2020. English pubs are among the businesses that are allowed to welcome guests with some anti-virus precautions from Saturday July 4, as the coronavirus restrictions are eased. (Aaron ChownPool via AP)

On Friday, another 137 virus-related deaths were recorded across the U.K., the large majority in England, taking the total to 44,131, by far the highest in Europe and third behind the United States and Brazil.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the decision to ease the lockdown is based on the scientific evidence that people are “appreciably less likely now to be in close proximity” with someone with the virus than at the height of the pandemic.

“Let’s not blow it now,” he said.

NHS staff and campaigners stand outside Downing Street, in London, Friday, July 3, 2020, reading out the names of NHS staff who have died from the coronavirus, as part of a candlelit procession from St. Thomas' Hospital, where they are holding a vigil for those who died due to the coronavirus and marking the 72nd anniversary of the NHS. Each lantern represents 1000 people who have died from COVID-19 in the U.K. (Jonathan BradyPA via AP)

In other countries, the reopening of bars and restaurants has been blamed for a spike in infections.

The four nations of the U.K. — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are easing the lockdown at different speeds.