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Britons to enjoy first social tipples of 2021 after latest relaxation of lockdown measures

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From Monday they will also be able to visit a gym, go shopping and get their hair cut as the country reaches the second stage in the Prime Minister’s roadmap to normality. The rule change will mean pubs and restaurants can serve customers sitting outside. Outdoor attractions, including zoos, will open, as will self- contained holiday accommodation. Libraries and community centres will also reopen.

The poll found more than half believe the “worst is behind us”, with nearly a quarter of people (24 percent) planning to visit a pub or restaurant tomorrow. But many are still worried. Only 27 percent of people said they would not feel nervous at all about visiting a pub or restaurant in the coming weeks.

Forty-two percent said they would feel “a bit” nervous and 27 percent said they would be “very” nervous, the poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found.

James Calder, chief executive of the Society of Independent Brewers, stressed the safety measures pub landlords have put in place.

He said: “The pub industry has led the way in introducing effective safety measures to ensure the protection of both customers and staff, enabling us all to enjoy a drink in our local pubs once again. I, for one, will be visiting my local next week and opting for a pint of cask beer from a local independent brewery.”

There were similar anxieties about shopping. Forty-four percent would feel “a bit” nervous, 15 percent would be “very” nervous and just 38 percent would be not nervous at all.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said vast sums have been spent making shops safe and urged people to return to the high street.

She said: “Retailers have spent hundreds of millions to make shops Covid-secure for customers and colleagues. Town and city centres have seen footfall nosedive throughout the past year, with the three lockdowns estimated to have cost non-food stores £30billion in lost sales.”

She added: “We encourage the public to visit their local high street over the coming weeks, knowing every purchase they make and every item they buy is a job supported and a local community helped.

Unlocking consumer spending will be essential to the UK’s economic recovery, and the Government should do what it can to build consumer confidence.

“While we expect an initial surge in spending when shops first open, the real test will be how this holds up in the weeks and months that follow.” Boris Johnson has pledged that the lifting of restrictions will help life move towards “some semblance of normality” in June. But people are pessimistic about life returning to pre-pandemic normality in the near future.

More than half (53 percent) anticipated the country getting back to normal “sometime in 2022”, with 15 percent saying “sometime in 2023”.

The gloomiest 12 percent of the 2,000 people polled said life would never get back to normal.

Nearly a pessimistic fifth of those questioned (19 percent) say the “worst is yet to come”.

The polling found the country was also divided on the Government’s approach to easing restrictions.

While 38 percent said the Government has struck the “right balance” seven percent said it has been “excessively” impatient and 25 percent said it has been “somewhat” too impatient.

People were also split on whether or not Boris Johnson has handled the coronavirus crisis well, with 44 percent saying he has and 46 percent that he has not.

Meanwhile, seven in 10 people supported making vaccination compulsory for those working in the public service sector, and 58 percent said employers should have the right to insist staff are vaccinated.



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