Back to the pub: is England celebrating too soon?

Sharp drops in the number of infections thanks to a successful vaccination campaign have made it possible: after three months in lockdown, shops, gyms, hairdressers, zoos and outdoor dining facilities reopened in England on Monday. While people there are taking full advantage of the new freedoms, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are taking a more cautious approach. What will England's easing of restrictions bring?

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The Independent (GB) /

Now it's up to the younger generation

The positive trend could quickly be reversed, The Independent warns:

“It would not take much indiscipline, or much of a slowdown in the vaccination rate, to see the welcome plunge in Covid cases and deaths start to flatten out or even tick up again. The remainder of the battle against Covid, then, rests on the attitudes and actions of the younger generation. It is they who have, so far, had least to fear from Covid on a personal level, and who have the least personal incentive to take the vaccine. Yet they are also the demographic most inclined to go out and socialise, and inevitably may let their guard drop as the booze flows and a convivial evening out stretches into the cooler night.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Ireland's fate also hangs in the balance

Most of the restrictions linked to the pandemic are still in place in Ireland. Ian O'Doherty, columnist with The Irish Independent, says any easing will depend on how the situation in the UK develops:

“We should all keep a close eye on how the British public responds to their new freedoms - because you damn well know that's what our own public health officials will be doing. If there is a calm and moderate response in the UK, it bolsters the Irish argument that we should be trusted enough to be allowed to get our hair cut. On the other hand, if the UK public goes bonkers in the first few days and we see a noticeable spike in cases of Covid, then we here on this island might as well kiss the rest of the year goodbye.”