UK's Johnson announcing plan to ease virus restriction

 UK's Johnson announcing plan to ease virus restriction
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U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday is expected to announce plans to slowly ease restrictions implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

Schools are expected to reopen on March 8 while residents will be allowed to gather outdoors with one friend or relative for a chat or picnic, according to The Associated Press

The next phase of reopening will reportedly come three weeks later, with groups of up to six permitted, and amateur outdoor sports can begin again. But large gatherings and the reopening of establishments such as barber shops, pubs and gyms will have to wait until April, according to Johnson's plans. 

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Johnson has stated a goal of getting every adult in England vaccinated by July, and has kept the country under lockdown for much of the winter. 

The country has reported more coronavirus deaths than any other European nation, with more than 120,000 lives lost to the disease.

“Outdoor versus indoor, priority being children in schools,” Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said, according to the AP. “Second priority is obviously allowing two people on March 8 to meet outside for a coffee to address some of the issues around loneliness.”

England was the first western nation to begin vaccinating residents, and government scientists say they are still waiting on data to determine the efforts' effect on countrywide coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths. 

A new strain of the virus, thought by doctors to be more contagious and potentially deadly, was first detected in the U.K. earlier this year. It has since been reported in several countries around the world, including the United States. 

The U.S. is quickly approaching the grim milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths.