Gradual deconfinement in England, which softens the rules for outdoor meetings

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On the strength of its massive vaccination campaign, England began on Monday the second phase of its very progressive deconfinement plan, authorizing meetings and outdoor sports only, while calling for vigilance in the face of certain variants which it has so far escaped. .

After reopening its schools on March 8, England is taking a new step towards breaking out of the confinement introduced in January to fight against the coronavirus epidemic, in a country where each province is deconfining at its own pace.

From Monday, groups of six people or two different households will be allowed to meet outdoors. Amateur athletes can also resume the practice of tennis, golf, basketball, swimming or other sports taking place in the open air.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sees this “Happy Monday”, as some newspapers have dubbed it, the opportunity to “kick off a great British sports summer”, wishing ” people of all ages to find their teammates and resume the activities they enjoy ”.

The most bereaved country in Europe by the pandemic with more than 126,500 dead, the United Kingdom launched in December in a vaccination race to get out of a containment devastating for its economy.

Thanks to serums from Oxford / AstraZeneca and Pfizer / BioNTech, the British health service reached the 30 million first dose mark on Sunday, or almost 60% of the adult population.

17 million doses of a third vaccine, that of the American Moderna, should complete this arsenal next month, said Sunday the Minister of Culture Oliver Dowden, wanting to be reassuring in the face of concerns about the supply of vaccines linked to a conflict with the European Union.

“Real threat”

Despite these “last difficult months” and the desire “impatient” to see his loved ones, the Minister of Health Matt Hancock encouraged in a statement the British to “take this new step safely”, to “protect the progress made thanks to the vaccine ”.

“As the increase in cases in Europe shows, this virus still poses a very real threat,” he warned.

London police recalled in a statement on Sunday that “all large gatherings” remained prohibited, saying they were ready to “respond quickly to private parties and dangerous raves”.

“We must remain cautious,” he also called Boris Johnson, conceding that “the increase in cases in Europe and the new variants which threaten our vaccination campaign” could arrive in the United Kingdom in three weeks.

The leader, however, affirmed that he “saw absolutely nothing in the scientific data” which could for the moment “dissuade him from continuing on the path to freedom” constituted by his deconfinement plan.

The next step in this process is the long-awaited reopening of the terraces of pubs, bars and restaurants, as well as non-essential businesses such as hairdressers, normally scheduled for April 12.

The Prime Minister, who has for weeks displayed a huge disheveled blond hair, was delighted in advance to be able “finally” to wear a new cup and drink a beer in the pub.