England’s pubs will finally throw open their doors this weekend, after being closed since mid-March as Britain grappled with the coronavirus pandemic.
The pubs will be joined by restaurants, museums, hotels and other businesses reopening in the latest in a phased resumption of the British economy.
The much-awaited event has been dubbed “Super Saturday” in the media, sparking worries that after months cooped up indoors, some Britons get carried away and risk spreading COVID-19.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged the public to behave responsibly, warning businesses, livelihoods and the future of the whole economy depend on it.
“Ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly,” Mr Johnson will say on Friday.
Many of the elements that define a British pub will be missing when they do reopen: With numbers limited, there will be no crowds, no standing at the bar and no live music. Venues will also have to keep records of customers in case of a virus outbreak.
Mr Johnson has previously said he is looking forward to visiting a pub himself but has warned patrons would have to stick to new rules.
He was expected to repeat that caution on Friday, pointing to a spike in cases that has forced the British city of Leicester to be locked down. Mr Johnson will warn that freedoms can be swiftly revoked if the virus takes hold elsewhere.
The PM’s warning came as the British government said it would lift its COVID-19 quarantine requirement for people arriving in the country from countries including Germany, France, Spain and Italy from July 10.
A full list of countries covered by the relaxation will be announced on Friday.
Under existing rules, travellers must self-isolate for 14 days on entering the country, something airlines and the travel industry have said will cost thousands of jobs and inflict further damage on the economy.