Week Ahead: Stage two out of lockdown, Parkinson's Awareness Week and Ramadan begins

The second stage out of lockdown begins, an important cause is highlighted and Ramadan starts. John Blow looks at the week ahead.

Boris Johnson. Picture: PA.

Second Step

People could experience mixture of relief and caution tomorrow as the second stage out of coronavirus restrictions begins in England.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that shops, hairdressers and pub beer gardens can now reopen in England but urged the public against complacency when it came to obeying the rules.

Mr Johnson previously said the shift was “fully justified by the data” and that he had seen “nothing” to make him think he would have to “deviate” from his intention to scrap all restrictions by June 21 at the earliest.

His comments came despite modelling from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) showing that, while stage two of the unlocking is unlikely to exert pressure on the NHS, the proposed changes for May and June when social mixing is set to be permitted again could cause hospital admissions to rise to levels seen during January’s winter peak.

Stage two of lockdown easing will see some premises allowed to reopen - some of them for the first time in three months - including non-essential shops, hairdressers and nail salons, gyms, while independent or household visits to libraries, community centres, zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas will also be allowed.

Self-contained accommodation including campsites and holiday lets will be permitted to receive guests, and bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers outdoors, but groups will be limited to two households or by the rule of six.

A paper from experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said their projections suggested stage two of the road map “may lead to a small surge of cases and deaths” but stage four in June, when restrictions are expected to be abolished, could “lead to a larger surge of cases and deaths comparable to that seen during the first wave”.

They cautioned their findings were “preliminary” and made “pessimistic assumptions” about the later stages of the road map.

Tomorrow also marks a year since Johnson was discharged from hospital after treatment for coronavirus.

Raising awareness

Parkinson’s Awareness Week will continue until Saturday in order to educate people about the incurable illness.

This year, the theme is Mental Health in Parkinson’s and the charity Parkinson’s Care and Support UK has launched the first Parkinson’s Mental Health Support Hub, exclusively for people affected by the condition.

Up to half of people with Parkinson’s will suffer from anxiety or depression at some point during their illness, according to the organisation.

These conditions are often overlooked and undiagnosed, it says, but living with mental illnesses along with with Parkinson’s can worsen symptoms such as tremor, stiffness, sleep problems and pain and much more, and reduce overall quality of life.

Ramadan begins

The beginning of Ramadan is expected to be marked from tomorrow night for 30 days, during which Muslims will not eat or drink during the hours of daylight.

The ninth month of the Islamic calendar remembers the month when the Koran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

Sawm - the Arabic word for fasting - is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and takes place every day from sunrise to sunset.

The period will end with the with the celebratory days of Eid al-Fitr starting on Wednesday May 12 or Thursday May 13.

Traditionally it means there will be feasts, the giving of gifts to children and people spending time with their loved ones.