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London Casino Reopens As Restrictions Ease

The Hippodrome casino in London's West End reopened at midnight on Monday after months closed due to the coronavirus lockdown.


The Hippodrome casino in London's West End reopened at midnight on Monday after months closed due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Pubs and restaurants across much of the U.K. opened for indoor service for the first time since early January on Monday, even as the prime minister urged people to be cautious amid the spread of a more contagious COVID-19 variant.

The latest step in the gradual easing of nationwide restrictions imposed on January 4 also includes the reopening of theaters, sports venues and museums, raising hopes that the economy may soon start to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic.

The government is also relaxing guidance on close personal contact, such as hugging, and permitting international travel, though only 12 countries and territories are on the list of “safe” destinations.

But the rapid spread of a variant first discovered in India is tempering the optimism for pubs and hugs amid memories of how another variant swept across the country in December, triggering England’s third national lockdown.

Public health officials and the government are urging people to continue to observe social distancing and hygiene guidance, even though they say the situation is different now because almost 70% of the adult population has received at least one dose of vaccine.

New infections averaged about 2,300 per day over the past seven days compared with nearly 70,000 a day during the winter peak, according to government statistics. Deaths averaged just over 10 a day during the same period, down from a peak of 1,820 on Jan. 20.

Britain has recorded almost 128,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest figure in Europe.

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