Younger children went back to schools in England yesterday as Britain began to stir back to life, while the government reported the lowest coronavirus death toll since the start of the national lockdown in late March.
Outdoor markets also swung open their gates and car showrooms tried to lure back customers and recoup losses suffered since Britain effectively shut down for business to ward off a disease that has now officially claimed 39,045 lives in the country.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Britain was making “significant progress” against the virus after its daily toll dropped to 111 — the lowest since the stay-at-home order was issued on March 23.
Reporting of virus cases and fatalities is often lower after a weekend and many people still appeared hesitant to start using public transport or shop.
“It’s very different from usual,” Danish Londoner John Jellesmark said on a visit to the usually bustling Camden Market in the north of the capital. “It’s still pretty slow. It looks like the market is basically waking up.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a timeline that allowed 2mn younger children in England to return to school yesterday and older ones from June 15.
The devolved governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland are eyeing a return in August and September, while Wales is still weighing the benefits of human contact against the dangers of children catching the disease and bringing it home.
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