All coronavirus restrictions are lifted tomorrow for the first time since March last year.
But it comes as coronavirus cases and deaths continued to increase as this week, while Boris Johnson claimed it was “highly probable” the worst of the pandemic is over.
The Prime Minister urged people not to “throw caution to the winds” as England’s restrictions eased and acknowledged there would be more hospital admissions and deaths from Covid-19 to come during “difficult days and weeks ahead”.
Mr Johnson has already admitted daily cases could hit 50,000 by today and Health Secretary Sajid Javid said they could top 100,000 over the summer.
The Prime Minister said the success of the vaccination programme meant they could go ahead with the final reopening of the economy, depiste warnings that it is premature.
The Opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics is due to take place on Friday.
Following a year’s delay and major uncertainty over whether they would happen at all, spectators will be barred from public events in the city as a consequence of the Japanese government’s decision to impose a city-wide State of Emergency for the duration of the Games (though dignitaries and suchlike will be at the opening). The Tokyo Organising Committee previously announced that fans would be asked to refrain from spectating on roadsides during the cycling and triathlon events in the city.
In announcing the renewed State of Emergency in Tokyo earlier this month, the Japanese government confirmed it would reverse an earlier decision to allow some spectators into Games venues, due to a recent rise in coronavirus cases.
However Sir Chris Hoy feels the circumstances around the pandemic can enhance the Olympics impact rather than diminish it.
Competitors will have to quarantine and be subjected to regular testing while adhering to strict guidelines to help prevent any coronavirus cases spreading.
It is a far cry from Hoy’s experience of leading Team GB out at London 2012 and becoming the country’s most decorated Olympian in front of a home crowd. But the retired track cyclist believes there is a chance for athletes to bring heightened joy and distraction to a world seeking respite from coronavirus.
“It’s a unique experience,” the Scot told the PA news agency. “You can look at it two ways.
“You can go ‘oh, what a shame, it’s my one Olympic Games or my first Olympic Games, there’s going to be no crowds, my family won’t be there, I can’t go out and enjoy the city when I have finished competing, I can’t go and watch other events’.
“Or you can say, ‘you know what, this nearly didn’t happen and you are going to get the chance to compete for your country at the biggest sporting event in the world’.”
Tramlines on track
Sheffield’s Tramlines festival returns for three days from Friday.
Despite today’s lifting of all restrictions, it was announced last month that the festival would go ahead as part of the Government’s series of test events as Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage MP said the event would provide “vital scientific evidence”.
Royal Blood, Supergrass and The Streets are in the line-up.
It will start on the same day as the 10th anniversary of Amy Winehouse’s death. The 27-year-old, best known for songs including Back To Black and Rehab, died of alcohol poisoning at her north London home on July 23, 2011. Her mother Janis last week said she feels the presence of her late daughter with her “always”.