Boris Johnson has called for a “heavy dose of caution” as indoor socialising and physical contact resumed today.
The Prime Minister said “now everyone must play their part” as England pushed ahead with the third stage of the road map out of lockdown on Monday.
Pubs and restaurants will be able to welcome customers back indoors, visits to the homes of friends and family can resume and the foreign holiday ban has ended.
But the newfound freedoms are “crouched in uncertainty” against the backdrop of concerns over the Indian coronavirus variant.
Politics.co.uk editor Ian Dunt tweeted: “What’s heartbreaking is that today we could be celebrating opening up with a sense of confidence that we’ll never have to go through an extended lockdown again. But we’re not.”
It comes amid claims that at least 20,000 passengers possibly infected with a highly infectious strain of Covid-19 were allowed to enter Britain while the PM delayed imposing a travel ban from India.
Scrutiny is falling on the prime minister’s decision to wait until 23 April to add India to the “red list” – three weeks after announcing a ban on flights from Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Analysis of Civil Aviation Authority data by The Sunday Times suggest that 900 people arrived daily from India between 2 April and 23 April.
One Whitehall source told the newspaper: “It’s very clear that we should have closed the border to India earlier and that Boris did not do so because he didn’t want to offend Modi.”