Boris Johnson urged the nation to be cautious as people celebrate a major relaxation in Covid rules today.
Families and friends can hug and socialise indoors for the first time this year, while pubs, cafes and restaurants can serve customers inside.
Limited international travel is also back on.
Meanwhile, Britain’s vaccine rollout continues to power ahead with more than 20 million people fully vaccinated with two doses. Mr Johnson says his next aim is to reach one million jabs a day to see off the Indian variant of the virus. But he also warned that until that happens, the changes in restrictions should be approached with a “heavy dose of caution”.
He said: “Together we have reached another milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution.
“We are keeping the spread of the variant first identified in India under close observation and taking swift action where infection rates are rising.
“The current data does not indicate unsustainable pressure on the NHS, and our extraordinary vaccination programme will accelerate – with second doses being brought forward to give the most vulnerable maximum protection.
“But now everyone must play their part, by getting tested twice a week, coming forward for your vaccine when called and remembering ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’.
“I urge everyone to be cautious and take responsibility when enjoying new freedoms today in order to keep the virus at bay.”
Figures published yesterday show 1,926 new Covid cases and another four deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
Across the UK, 56,677,012 vaccines have been given, including 20,103,658 second doses or 38.2 per cent of the population.
From this week, the over-35s will be invited for their first jabs.
Yesterday Health Secretary Matt Hancock said early lab data showed vaccines remained effective against the Indian variant.
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