'No further lockdown restrictions lifted yet,' advise experts

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned there should be no further easing of lockdown measures in England until a more effective contact-tracing system has been established.

The leading health body said the UK is still in an ‘active phase’ of the coronavirus crisis and has advised against any more restrictions being lifted.

The warning comes as non-essential shops have been encouraged to open from today and single people were allowed to form social bubbles with another household at the weekend, the Guardian has reported.

The Government has also said it is due to review the two-metre distancing rule.

But there has been criticism of contact-tracing system following the first results of the new operation.

Dr Hans Kluge, the WHO’s director for Europe, cautioned that the UK remained in a “very active phase of the pandemic”.

In an interview with the Guardian, Kluge warned against “rushing into reopening the economy.”

While the WHO official said it was encouraging news on the tracking in England of about 31,000 contacts of 8,000 infected people, the Government should be convinced it could “aggressively” track infections.

Queues formed at stores across England as thousands of non-essential shops pulled up their shutters for the first time since March.

Customers are being encouraged to go out and spend but to “be sensible” in their approach, as the Government seeks to begin reopening the economy “gradually and carefully”.

Long lines were seen at Primark stores across the country, with dozens of keen shoppers waiting outside branches of the budget clothes store in Birmingham, Derby, Liverpool and Nottingham.

People heading into the Apple store on Regent Street in central London had their temperatures checked and were told they must wear face coverings when inside.

Small business minister Paul Scully insisted it is safe to shop, noting the new looks many stores will have as they attempt to ensure social distancing and good hygiene among staff and customers.

He told BBC Breakfast: “The high street is going to be a different place to what it was before, with the one-way systems, with the hand sanitisers, and with people not trying clothes on in the same way.

“But, nonetheless, it is safe to shop. I would encourage people to be sensible, work with the people in the shop but do go out and shop, and start opening our economy gradually and carefully.”

The reopening comes as a survey suggested less than half of people feel comfortable returning to clothes shops.

Results of YouGov polling carried out earlier this month suggested just 40% of people were comfortable to go back into such stores, and only 48% think they would be able to stay the required two metres away from other shoppers.

Some 41% of people said they believe it is about the right time for the shops to reopen, but 39% said it was too soon.

Oliver Rowe, director of reputation research at YouGov – which carried out four surveys between June 2 and 11 on between 1,700 and 4,000 people, said the results show “there is a lot of work to be done yet to convince shoppers that it’s business as usual”.

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