I didn’t go down the pub last night, but only because I feared they might be particularly busy.
I’ll be heading out for a swift pint in the near future, however. And I’ll be enjoying the other freedoms that have been returned to us – not least the chance to get a haircut.
There are still rules in place. You and members of your household should only meet up with people from one other household at a time indoors, whether that’s in a restaurant or your own home.
Even so, there’s a sense that the lockdown has pretty much come to an end. It’s been replaced by “social distancing”, which is not the same thing.
For some people, this is a terrifying prospect. The virus is still with us, after all. There’s no vaccine for coronavirus, and it’s still capable of spreading through the population.
Cambridge University academics estimate that 9% of people in the East and West Midlands may have had the virus. Even if that makes you immune to further infections (experts think it probably confers some level of immunity but aren’t certain), it still leaves plenty of people who might be vulnerable.
And of course, the local lockdown in Leicester shows that the pandemic isn’t over.
But there’s another side to the story. Infection rates across the West Midlands are falling – and are much lower than in Leicester.
Latest data from Leicester, published by Public Health England, show the city had 141.3 cases for every 100,000 people tested, up from 140.2 the week before.
But the infection rate for Birmingham is 6.5 cases for every 100,000 tested. That’s down from 9.6 cases the week before.
These figures include both major testing systems – known in the official jargon as pillar 1 and pillar 2.
In Dudley the infection rate is 2.2, down from 3.7. In Walsall it is 3.2, down from 4.6. In Solihull it is 6.5, up from 4.7 the week before but still low compared to Leicester.
There are more statistics, but you get the point. Cases are declining. Separate data from Public Health England shows the number of “excess deaths” – the number of people dying compared to what you’d expect at this time of year if the virus didn’t exist – has been zero for some weeks now.
None of this means we can pretend coronavirus has gone away. That’s why Boris Johnson issued a plea on Friday evening for people to enjoy the re-opening of “local restaurants, hairdressers, libraries, museums, cinemas, and yes, pubs”, but to do so responsibly.
But it does mean – as long as we obey the rules that remain – that we can leave our homes without feeling guilty about it.