England Lifts Strict Lockdown Restrictions, Allowing Non-essential Shops and Outdoor Dining to Reopen

"I'm sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

Groups of friends clinked pint glasses at midnight on Monday in England as pubs, restaurants, and shops reopened on Monday, months after the country went into lockdown due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Customers lined up outside clothing shops as the sun rose, braving chilly temperatures to get their shopping fix, Reuters reported, while those hankering for a late-night drink came out at midnight to hit outdoor pubs across England. Others hit up their hairdresser for a long-overdue cut.

"I'm sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else, it's a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement, according to Reuters. "I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember 'hands, face, space and fresh air' to suppress COVID as we push on with our vaccination programme."

The United Kingdom has been under lockdown since January amid a rise in cases and the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus. On Monday, non-essential shops, outdoor dining, personal care services, and outdoor attractions like theme parks were allowed to reopen, according to the government.

Scotland will wait until April 26 to open non-essential stores.

International travel, however, remains prohibited and won't be allowed again until at least May 17.

Currently, anyone returning to the UK from abroad is required to either get tested before arriving and quarantine before getting tested again, or quarantine in a hotel, depending on where they are coming from. Those who need to leave the country must prove their trip is allowed under the stay-at-home restrictions.

The UK isn't alone in imposing lockdown restrictions in Europe. Earlier this month, France extended its lockdown nationwide, requiring residents to remain within about six miles of their homes and closing all non-essential shops. And Italy locked down ahead of Easter, closing non-essential stores in "red zone" areas and telling people to leave home only for work or health reasons.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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