Coronavirus UK: Lockdown eased on pubs, weddings and haircuts

Boris Johnson tonight dramatically unwound the coronavirus lockdown to bring the country out of ‘hibernation’ – with a return for pubs, haircuts and weddings and family and friends getting the green light to meet up indoors for the first time in months.

The PM said he wanted to ‘make life easier’ after an ‘incredibly tough time’ with bars, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers in England able to get back up and running from July 4 – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.

Taking the Downing Street briefing this evening, he announced that the social distancing rule is being halved to ‘one metre plus’ to free up thousands of business, with precautions such as face masks deployed to make sure the risks of transmission stay ‘broadly’ the same. 

Mr Johnson insisted the overhaul has been approved by medical chief Chris Whitty and science chief Patrick Vallance – who flanked him inside No10 this evening. 

But both advisors struck more cautious tones as they answered questions alongside the Prime Minister. 

Prof Whitty cautioned: ‘We will be in for really quite a long haul.’

In a stark message, he explained:’If people hear a distorted version of what’s being said, that says ”this is all fine now, it’s gone away” and start behaving in ways that they normally would have before this virus happened, yes, we will get an uptick for sure.

‘It is absolutely critical people stick to the guidance that has been given, it’s a changed guidance for there are still very significant restrictions socially and there are very significant restrictions on business of different sorts.’

On the changes to the two-metre rule, Prof Whitty said it was a ‘balance of risk’.

‘I think that this is a reasonable balance of risk,’ he said, but it was ‘absolutely not risk free’. 

He also predicted that the country could have to cope with Covid-19 into 2021: ‘I would be surprised and delighted if we weren’t in this current situation through the winter and into next spring. 

‘I expect there to be a significant amount of coronavirus circulating at least into that time and I think it is going to be quite optimistic that for science to come fully to the rescue over that kind of timeframe.

‘But I have an absolute confidence in the capacity of science to overcome infectious diseases – it has done that repeatedly and it will do that for this virus, whether that is by drugs, vaccines or indeed other things that may come into play.

‘For medium to long term, I’m optimistic. But for the short to medium term, until this time next year, certainly I think we should be planning for this for what I consider to be the long haul into 2021.’

Sir Patrick also said it was ‘extremely unlikely’ that the virus would ‘burn itself out and disappear’, suggesting the battle would stretch into the winter and 2021.

He said the said the Government’s approach to easing the lockdown was ‘reasonable’ but added: ‘It is not risk free. It cannot be risk free. 

‘Every time you take a step to open up there is some associated risk with that.’ 

He added: ‘I think we are with this a long time.

‘We hope that the vaccines and the therapeutics come along soon but there are no guarantees on any of those.’

Mr Johnson said he would not hesitate to put the ‘handbrake’ on if the virus starts to surge again and acknowledged the caution of his advisors.  

He said: ‘As for July 4, I hope it will be a great day but obviously, you know, people have got to make sure they don’t over do it.

‘I know Chris (Whitty) is particularly worried about this – we can’t have great writhing scenes in the beer gardens when the virus could be passed on.

‘This has to be done in a sensible way, people should be giving their names to the pubs, to the restaurants, doing things in a way that allows us, if something does happen, to track back, to test and trace and stamp out any outbreak.

‘That’s the absolutely crucial thing. People should of course enjoy themselves but as Chris and Patrick have said, this is going to be with us for a while. We’ve just got to adjust and make it work.’

The PM added, however, that he wants to see people out and about enjoying themselves again.

‘I think it is great to see people out shopping again. Frankly, I can’t wait to go to a pub or a restaurant even if it may not be wholly compatible with the new diet that I’m on.

‘I think people need to go out and enjoy themselves and rediscover things they haven’t been able to do for a long time.

‘I want to see bustle, I want to see activity. But I also want to see everybody being careful, staying alert and following the guidance.

‘As for all the things I’m looking forward to, there is a very long list. I’d love to go to the theatre again, I’d like to go and see The Globe. I’d like to go to a restaurant, frankly. I would love to get my hair cut.’

Staycations are back on the agenda, with hotels, campsites and holiday cottages permitted as long as they comply with ‘Covid secure’ guidelines. Church services – including wedding ceremonies for up to 30 people – can restart, but there is a ban on singing as it poses a ‘particular’ threat of spread.   

Two households will be allowed to gather indoors, in their homes or at a restaurant or museum, with no limit on numbers. Currently there is a ceiling of six people outdoors, which was seen as disadvantaging bigger families.

But they will have to observe social distancing, meaning grandparents will have to wait a bit longer to hug their grandchildren. A mooted expansion of social ‘bubbles’ to allow people to mix freely has seemingly been shelved. 

Nail bars, gyms and swimming pools will also remain off limits after officials decided they are currently too dangerous to operate. 

The relaxation – which will take effect on the same day as US Independence Day – comes amid growing optimism that the virus is finally dwindling.  

In other developments on a crucial day in the coronavirus crisis:  

  • The number of excess deaths in the UK since the coronavirus outbreak began has passed 65,000, according to the ONS – but the rate has slowed; 
  • The UK recorded just 56 Covid-19 deaths in the latest 24 hours as separate figures confirmed the outbreak is fizzling out after terrorizing the nation for three months, with the number of coronavirus fatalities now falling in every age group for the first time since the crisis began; 
  • Former chancellor Sajid Javid has called for a ‘significant temporary’ cut in national insurance to boost the economic recovery, making it cheaper for employers to take on staff;
  • Downing Street has announced that tonight’s press conference will be the last daily update, with briefings in future held for specific issues; 
  • Charities have expressed concern over plans for 2.2 million of the most vulnerable people in England to stop shielding from the end of July;
  • Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford has warned a local lockdown could be imposed on the island of Anglesey following a coronavirus outbreak at a chicken processing plant;
  • NHS Blood and Transplant has called for more men who have had Covid-19 to donate blood plasma to establish if it can be used to treat sufferers following evidence they produce more antibodies than women.

Boris Johnson today declared that life is about to get ‘easier’ as he dramatically unwound the coronavirus lockdown

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance appeared alongside the Prime Minister at today's Downing Street briefing

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance appeared alongside the Prime Minister at today's Downing Street briefing

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance appeared alongside the Prime Minister at today’s Downing Street briefing

At the press conference, Mr Johnson said: ‘The Government has asked a huge amount of all of you, and… the people of this country met that challenge with good humour and common sense.

What can re-open on July and what will have to remain closed?

Boris Johnson unveiled a widely expected relaxation of the lockdown in England today.

Bars, pubs, restaurants, bingo halls and hairdressers ware among venues that will be allowed to reopen from July 4 as long as they are ‘Covid secure’, meaning they have social distancing measures in place, which means keeping people apart plus extra measures like screens and masks.

But others will be forced to remain closed as they are still seen as too high rick to be allowed to open their doors.

They include indoor gyms, nail bars, tattoo parlours and nightclubs. 

Here is a list of what can and cannot open from July 4 under new the lockdown plan. 

Reopening from July 4 

  • Restaurants and cafes – tables one metre apart but facing away, 
  • Bars and pubs – customers sign a guest book, order by app where possible;
  • Hotels and B&Bs – without buffet breakfasts and meals from room service; 
  • Holiday homes 
  • Campsites and caravan parks – only where they can comply with hygiene guidance in shared washing and toilet facilities;
  • Places of worship – singing is banned as it poses a ‘particular’ risk; 
  • Libraries – books to be quarantined when handled by the public;
  • Community centres – with limits on use and strict distancing;
  • Museums and art galleries – extra ventilation and one-way systems
  • Workplace canteens – with contactless payment where possible; 
  • Cinemas – rows of seats left empty to maintain distance and 
  • Bingo halls – tables arranged to face away;
  • Theatres and concert halls (but no live performances) – singing not allowed due to risk of spread;
  • Barbers and hair salons – screens separating stations, minimal conversation;
  • Outdoor playgrounds and outdoor gyms – limits on numbers and advice to wash hands;
  • Funfairs, theme and adventure parks, arcades – rides to be scrupulously cleaned, and run at lower capacity if necessary;
  • Indoor leisure centres and facilities including indoor gaming – some sports such as squash courts still not allowed;
  • Social clubs, model villages 
  • Indoor attractions at aquariums, zoos and safari parks, farms and wildlife centres – hygiene precautions and capacity restrictions; 

Remaining closed after July 4 

  • Nightclubs
  • Bowling alleys
  • Ice skating rinks 
  • Indoor play areas, including soft play
  • Spas
  • Nail bars and beauty salons
  • Massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Indoor fitness and dance studios
  • Indoor gyms and sports venues and facilities
  • Swimming polls and water parks
  • Exhibition and conference centres where used for external events 
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‘Of course the fight is far from over. This is a nasty virus still that wants to take advantage of our carelessness.

‘I’m afraid there will be local outbreaks. And I must tell you that if the virus were to begin to run out of control, I will not hesitate to put on the handbrake and reverse some of these changes at local or indeed national level as required.

‘But we can avoid that if we all continue to stay alert and do our bit to control the virus.’

He said despite the winding back of lockdown police would still have the powers to break up large gatherings.

He said: ‘As we give people back more control over their lives we will be asking them to follow guidance on limiting their social contact rather than forcing them to do so through legislation.

‘This obviously requires everyone to act responsibly, which I have no doubt they will do.

‘It will still be possible for police to break up large and irresponsible gatherings but neither the police themselves nor the public that they serve want virtually every aspect of our behaviour to be subject to the criminal law.’

Sir Patrick said the epidemic continued to shrink – ‘albeit slowly’ – by between 2 per cent and 4 per cent a day.

He said that currently around 0.06 per cent of the population of the UK – 33,000 people – was now estimated to have the disease and that the numbers were ‘flattening off’ rather than going down to zero.

‘Don’t be fooled that this means it has gone away. The disease is growing across the world. It is coming down in the UK but it hasn’t gone away,’ he said.

Prof Whitty said more lockdown relaxing or tightening might come with developments in science.

He said: ‘Every few weeks we have a different understanding of this virus.

‘Therefore as our understanding changes, our countermeasures change and the epidemiological changes and, of course, there may be a possibility to relax some things and a need maybe to increase others.

‘So I think this shouldn’t be seen as a static picture for several different reasons but it is going to be a long haul, and everybody standing here fully appreciates this is going to be a long haul.’

He  predicted that the country could have to cope with Covid-19 into 2021.

He said: ‘I would be surprised and delighted if we weren’t in this current situation through the winter and into next spring.

‘I think then let’s regroup and work out where we are.’  

Mr Johnson stressed that it was for politicians to decide on policy, with input from experts.  

‘Of course, I take responsibility, the Government takes responsibility for these decisions,’ he told the No 10 briefing.

‘We are indebted to our scientific colleagues for their advice continually, but it is our responsibility to choose.’

Speaking in the Commons earlier, Mr Johnson said a ‘new but cautious optimism is palpable’ in the country, and the ‘bustle’ was returning to the streets. ‘Today we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end.’

However, in a sign of the risks involved, Mr Johnson warned that there ‘will be flare ups’ and changes will be reversed immediately if people abuse the new rules.

‘We have been clear that our cautious relaxation of the guidance is entirely conditional on our continued defeat of the virus,’ he told MPs. 

One politician shouted ‘hallelujah’ in the chamber as Mr Johnson revealed that pubs can come back.

‘Slowly but surely these changes will restore a sense of normality,’ the premier said.  

Mr Johnson said the disease was leaving ‘scars’.

Mr Johnson insisted ‘caution’ would remain the ‘watchword’. But he said it was now possible to ‘safely’ ease the lockdown. 

‘We continue to meet our five tests and the chief medical officers of all four home nations have downgraded the coronavirus alert level from four to three, meaning we no olonger face a virus spreaduing exponentially although it remains in general circulation.’

Mr Johnson said people should still maintain a two-metre distance where possible.

No hugs for granny yet as families are given the green light to meet indoors – but must stay socially distant 

  • Two households will be able to meet up in indoor settings from July 4;
  • They can even stay overnight in each other’s homes, or meet in restaurants;
  • Social distancing must still be observed, with plans for expanded ‘bubbles’ where people can mix freely seemingly shelved; 

Grandparents face a potentially agonising reunion with grandchildren under relaxed social distancing rules that allow them to meet indoors but bans hugs.

From July 4 two households of any size will be allowed to meet indoors for the first time in months, under changes announced today.

But social distancing – either remaining two metres apart or ‘one metre plus’ with protection like masks –  will have to remain in place.

It raises the prospect of grandparents who may not have seen their grandchildren since early spring unless in the garden will be allowed to have then round and even stay the night.

But they will be officially prohibited from hugging them or giving them a kiss goodnight.

Officials are clear that the new regulations are separate to the ‘social bubble’ plan introduced at the start of June. That allowed two households to act as one, with no social distancing, as long and one of them was a single person living alone or a single parent living with children’.

Although social distancing must remain in place in the new plan, there is no rule on exclusivity, meaning a family could have one set of grandparents to visit one day and the other set the next. 

Additionally, the limit on six people at any outdoor gathering is being lifted to allow two households to meet, irrespective of how big they are.

The limit of six people meeting outdoors if they are from more than two households will remain.  

But he added: ‘Where it is not we will advise people to keep a safe distance of one metre plus, meaning they should remain one metre apart, while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission.

‘We are today publishing guidance on how businesses can reduce the risk by taking certain steps to protect workers and customers.

‘These include, for instance, avoiding face-to-face seating by changing office layouts, reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, closing non-essential social spaces, providing hand sanitiser and changing shift patterns so that staff work in set teams.

‘And of course, we already mandate face coverings on public transport. 

‘Whilst the experts cannot give a precise assessment of how much the risk is reduced, they judge these mitigations would make ‘1 metre plus’ broadly equivalent to the risk at two metres if those mitigations are fully implemented.

‘Either will be acceptable and our guidance will change accordingly.’ 

Mr Johnson said he was aware that the public will ask questions about seeming inconsistencies .

‘We cannot lift all the restrictions at once so we have to make difficult judgements.’ 

Mr Johnson said two household will be able to meet up in any indoor setting, with no limit on total numbers.

Pointing out that the arrangements between groups did not have to be exclusive, he added: ‘That does not mean they must always be the same two households.

‘It will be possible for instance to meet one set of grandparents one weekend, and the others the following weekend.

‘We are not recommending meetings of multiple households indoors because of the risk of creating greater chains of transmission.

Pubs warn customers to pre-book as they brace for a rush on reopening – but nightclubs stay shut 

  • Screens at the tills and to create seating areas to maintain social distancing;
  • Pre-booking required and table service only, with a ban on standing at the bar to drink; 
  • One entrance with a separate exit door where possible to keep people apart;
  • Menus on tables will have to be thrown out after being used once;
  • Staff will hand over drinks holding the base of the glass to reduce contact; 
  • Employees will have to wash their hands between serving different tables.

Pubs in England will be allowed to reopen from July 4 but for table service only – while nightclubs will remain shut, Boris Johnson announced today.

Owners have warned customers to only turn up if they have pre-booked a table as bosses prepare to reopen after being shut for more than three months.

Wetherspoon pubs will be very different places when they reopen and the chain has said it will spend £11million getting them ready

Wetherspoon pubs will be very different places when they reopen and the chain has said it will spend £11million getting them ready

The Prime Minister told the Commons that customers will be allowed back into pubs as they reopen for the first time since closing on March 20 just before lockdown.

But pub-goers will be asked to register before having a drink at their local under plans to limit the spread of Covid-19 as England’s hospitality industry reopens.

Among the measures being mooted are: 

Some pubs already have all their tables reserved on the opening day – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ – with staff taken off furlough to help cope with bookings.

And politicians are expected to go on a PR blitz around the country to encourage people to return to pubs which will reopen with social distancing measures in place. 

‘Outside, the guidance remains that people from several households can meet in groups of up to six.’

But Mr Johnson said: ‘We are not recommending meetings of multiple households indoors.’ 

Outdoors, the maximum of six people meeting from different households remains. But there is no limit on a meeting between two households. 

Mr Johnson said: ‘Almost as eagerly awaited as a pint will be a haircut,’ he said. 

The PM insisted nail bars would be open ‘as soon as we can’.

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer said more reassurance was needed about the scientific evidence underpinning the overhaul.

But noting that the PM had given him advance notice of what was coming, he said: ‘We welcome the thrust of this statement.’

As Mr Johnson was speaking in Westminster, Nicola Sturgeon told her daily briefing in Edinburgh that the two metre rule will not be eased in Scotland yet.

Ms Sturgeon said she would be announcing dates for moving to the next phases of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown tomorrow, ahead of when she had planned to do so.

She said: ‘Tomorrow, I’ll be able to provide further detail on the timing of some of the specific steps in that journey.

‘I’ll be able to do so tomorrow ahead of when I thought just a few days ago that might be possible.’

On social distancing, the First Minister said the scientific advice was still in support of two metres.

But she added that the Scottish Government’s scientific advisory group has been asked to look into the possibility of reducing physical distancing in some settings.

They are expected to report to the First Minister by July 2.

She said: ‘Until then, the position here in Scotland remains the same. We are asking people to keep two metres physical distancing.

‘Any changes from other parts of the UK, while we will look at the evidence underpinning those very carefully, will not apply here at this stage.’

In more evidence of splits within the UK, Mr Johnson criticised the five-mile limit on travel from home imposed by the Labour administration in Wales.

‘I have my doubts about the five mile rule in Wales and wondered whether that might be reviewed,’ he said.

He later swiped that Welsh First Minister Mark Drakefored appeared to be suffering from ‘blessed amnesia’, after complaining that he had not had contact from Westminster.

He said the UK government was in ‘daily contact’ with the devolved administrations. 

‘I am not sure the five mile limit rule is entirely necessary and perhaps that needs to be withdrawn,’ Mr Johnson added. 

Some 2.2million vulnerable people who have been ‘shielding’ for more than three months were yesterday told they could finally leave their homes from July 6.

The focus of the attempted economic revival is on activities that can take place outdoors. 

Ministers will bring forward legislation this week to give fast-track approval for pubs and restaurants to put seating outdoors, and small shops will be encouraged to set up stalls outside their premises.

Ministers say ‘I do’ to weddings restart – but celebrations may have to be put on hold 

  • Limit of 30 people on attendance at ceremonies;
  • Singing will not be allowed as it is a high risk of spreading infection; 
  • Just two households can attend receptions. 

Weddings will be allowed to restart from July 4, the Prime minister confirmed today.

But while couples will be allowed to walk up the aisle they will not be allowed to enjoy the celebrations afterwards.

Ceremonies will be permitted under relaxation of rules governing religious buildings that will also allow congregations to worship – without singing.

But the wedding reception traditionally help afterwards would still be subject to restrictions on gatherings of more than one household.

It would potentially mean couples having to choose which of their families could be invited.

The package of measures was finalised by the Cabinet today before Mr Johnson made the announcements in a statement to Parliament.

Many indoor venues, including cinemas, museums and art galleries, will be allowed to reopen next week provided they take measures to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Mr Johnson also confirmed the end of the two-metre rule, with businesses allowed to operate a one-metre rule as long as they introduce other measures to cut the virus risk.

At a meeting of senior ministers and officials last night, Downing Street permanent secretary Simon Case, who led a review of the rule, said case numbers were now low enough to reduce the guidance to ‘one metre plus’.

But businesses will have to take precautions such as encouraging the use of masks, seating people side by side rather than face to face, and improving ventilation. 

Other measures include installing perspex screens, while customers at pubs and bars will have to sign guest books so they can be traced if they come into contact with someone who is infected. 

The changes will only apply in England for now. 

Ms Sturgeon yesterday suggested the Government was acting in a ‘reckless’ way. 

She said it was ‘very tempting’ to ease restrictions when death rates were falling, but said fresh outbreaks in Germany and China underlined the need for caution.

But Matt Hancock said official data on the epidemic supported the case for relaxing the rules.

The number of new cases fell to 958, the lowest figure since lockdown began on March 23. 

The Health Secretary told the daily No 10 briefing last night: ‘A month ago, one in 400 people had the virus; now it is one in 1,700 and we can ease the lockdown.’

Today’s package of measures is expected to produce the biggest single relaxation of the lockdown so far. 

One Whitehall source said it was ‘effectively the end of lockdown’ – although large gatherings will remain banned, theatres and nightclubs will have to stay closed, and modified social distancing rules will remain in place.

Cinemas will only be able to have customers in every other seat. 

Museums and galleries will have to operate one-way systems and limit numbers.

Hairdressers will be required to take steps such as wearing personal protective equipment and to cut the small talk to limit the spread of the virus.

Pubs and restaurants will also be allowed to reopen, but with a heavy focus on the outdoors. 

The change to the two-metre rule will mean that tables can be placed one metre apart, provided they are side by side.

The PM confirmed that from July 4 the British tourist industry can reopen, giving millions the hope of a ‘staycation’ in the UK this summer.

Boris looks forward to a hair cut with salons set to open at midnight on July 4 to clear huge backlog

  • Appointments to be made remotely, with no dropping in on the day of the haircut
  • Temperature testing for clients and staff on arrival
  • Waiting outside might be required until a customer is ushered in by their stylist
  • Reception desk will have a Perspex screen or be completely gone
  • Payments will be contactless, with no cash tipping
  • Chairs will be spaced out to observe social distancing guidelines
  • Stylists will wear masks and gowns that are changed after each client
  • Clients will be asked to wear masks and leave jewellery, handbags and coats at home wherever possible
  • Luxuries of tea, coffee and magazines will not be provided, so customers should bring their own
  • Hand sanitisers will be dotted throughout the salon
  • Juniors will not be assisting stylists, but sanitising sinks and surfaces between clients

A shaggy-haired Boris Johnson has revealed hairdressers will be allowed to reopen from July 4.

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons stylists can take customers providing they use appropriate precautions such as wearing visors.

But clients could face a three-month waiting list for a trim and some businesses said they will reopen at midnight to help clear the huge backlog.

Appointments are already full for the first two weeks of July, with one London hairdresser preparing to work through a 2,000-strong queue.

Mr Johnson said: ‘Almost as eagerly awaited as a pint will be a haircut, particularly by me, Mr Speaker.

‘And so we will reopen hairdressers with appropriate precautions including the use of visors.’

Northern Ireland salons will be able to reopen on July 6, the Welsh Government will review an official opening date on July 9, but Scotland has not announced its plans.

It will come as a relief to the public, who have either had a crack at their own barnets or left them to grow uncontrollably for three months.  

Hotels, guesthouses, campsites, caravan parks and self-catering properties will all be permitted to reopen if they act to prevent the spread of the virus.  

Owners of second homes will also be allowed to visit them again.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted: ‘Our plan is working. Having protected the NHS & reduced the number of #coronavirus cases we can now carefully lift restrictions. We must continue to protect our NHS & stay vigilant & stay alert.’ 

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted: ‘Museums, galleries and heritage venues can open from 4th July.

‘We’re sharing guidance to help keep everyone safe.

‘Will be great to see these wonderful venues and institutions reopened for everyone to enjoy.’

The scope of the changes have alarmed some experts. 

A World Health Organisation (WHO) representative warned the UK has to be careful, but praised progress in bringing the number of infections down, .

Dr Margaret Harris told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The lesson is for people to understand this is the year of living differently.

‘Not, ‘OK, it’s over’. You haven’t just been let out of school.

‘You have done well. You have really brought down your numbers.

‘The UK has brought a very difficult outbreak right down.

‘Very good news in the last couple of days about the limitation in cases, and far, far fewer people dying.

‘So, now is the moment to celebrate that by being super careful.’

Lucy Yardley, professor of health psychology at the University of Bristol and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Newsnight there was a ‘danger’ that some people thought lockdown had ended.

Professor Yardley said ‘you could argue that we were never so much listening to the Government as doing what we thought was right at the right time’ and added it ‘would be much harder’ to impose lockdown for a second time. 

But the news was warmly welcomed by business groups. 

CBI chief Caroline Fairbairn said: ‘The long and nervous wait for hoteliers, landlords and restaurateurs is now nearing an end. It will also be a joy that our cultural centres can slowly return to life.

‘Easing social distancing rules will make a material difference to the viability of thousands of firms. The move will also have a significant impact across sectors employing millions of people.’

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: ‘While the relaxation of the two-metre rule will help more firms increase capacity, we are still a long way from business as usual. 

‘Broader efforts to boost business and consumer confidence will still be needed to help firms trade their way out of this crisis.’ 

Phil Clapp, UK Cinema Association’s chief executive, said: ‘Today’s announcement is hugely welcome not just to cinema operators in England, but also we know to the many regular cinema-goers who can’t wait to get back to enjoying the big-screen experience.

‘We welcome in particular the acknowledgement implicit in today’s statement of the work the sector has undertaken in reassuring ministers that cinemas in England can reopen safely for audiences and staff members alike.

‘While discussions with the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continue, today is undoubtedly a significant step forward for the UK cinema sector’.

The return of the Great British staycation: Holidaymakers will be able to book breaks in hotspots like Devon and Cornwall from July 4 

  • Contactless check-in at hotels, bed and breakfast and camp sites
  • Campers will have to stay in their car until they are directed to their pitch
  • In all settings they will be expected to stay over a metre apart from someone else
  • Breakfast buffets and mini bars are all out for the time being
  • Visitors could be asked to bring their own toilets with them
  • Guests will also be asked to bring their own hand sanitiser and soap
  • All paperwork and phones will be removed from hotel rooms
  • Camp sites will clean their toilets six times a day
  •  In hotels and bed and breakfasts deep cleans after guests have left
  • Multiple family holidays are strictly reduced to just two households
  • Guests are not allowed to have visitors to where they are staying 

Brits will be able to take holidays in beauty spots in places like Devon and Cornwall – as the Prime Minister officially announced staycations from July 4.

Boris Johnson made the announcement in the House of Commons, paving the way for families languishing in lockdown to finally get away from a break. 

Hotels were given the green light to throw open their doors as long as they were kept clean and safe.

‘The opening of cinema sites will be made subject to guidelines agreed between the UK Cinema Association and Government officials, to be published shortly’.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality, said: ‘Having confirmation of the reopening date is a real boon and affords businesses some time to make the necessary preparations.

‘Our sector was one of the first to be seriously affected and we are going to be one of the last to reopen.

‘Getting venues open again, even with social distancing measures in place, is the best way to secures businesses and jobs.

‘While many venues will endeavour to reopen on July 4, capacities will be constrained by social distancing and some may be unable to trade viably at all, so continued Government support will remain crucial.’

Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has welcomed the Government’s plan to allow pubs to reopen.

He said: ‘We are extremely pleased that pubs are reopening on July 4 after a long hiatus.

‘We are going to discuss the precise Government proposals with our pub managers and staff before we comment further on the details.’

A statement from the Society of London Theatre said: ‘We welcome the easing of lockdown restrictions and look forward to continuing to work closely with the Government on a date when theatres can reopen’.

A spokeswoman for travel trade organisation Abta said: ‘The measures announced today to ease lockdown further in England and allow people to stay overnight in self-contained accommodation, and take domestic holidays from 4 July, is a step in the right direction on the road to restarting travel in earnest.

‘With travel restrictions in place for the last few months, there is latent demand to travel with people wanting to visit close family and friends and have something to look forward to.

‘However, the travel sector remains in a perilous state, with redundancies announced each week, and more needs to be done to help the whole sector recover. 

Film lovers will sit rows away from other and pick and mix will be banned when they reopen after lockdown

As Britons are let back in to cinemas, a string of social distancing measures will likely make going to the pictures a quieter, hungrier and more time-consuming affair

As Britons are let back in to cinemas, a string of social distancing measures will likely make going to the pictures a quieter, hungrier and more time-consuming affair

As Britons are let back in to cinemas, a string of social distancing measures will likely make going to the pictures a quieter, hungrier and more time-consuming affair

  • Rows of seats in auditoriums left totally empty to keep social distancing
  • Three empty seat spaces kept between customers – who can sit with their household or family members
  • Perspex screens and face masks for cinema staff – but no mandatory mask rule for customers
  • Cafés and restaurants staying shut 
  • Mandatory contactless payment 
  • Queues to get in and out of cinemas with one-way systems in place
  • Customers encouraged to make all bookings online 
  • Food and drink purchased in advance 
  • Antibacterial gel stations in lobbies 
  • No more pick and mix 

Cinemas are set to begin re-opening in the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England – but film-goers will likely face a radically different experience to what they’re used to. 

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, told Time Out film-goers could face a slew of changes – including no more pick and mix, one-way systems, perspex screens for staff and mandatory contactless payment. 

Customers will be allowed to sit with their household or family members, but the space around the seats will be kept empty for social distancing- meaning auditoriums could have a maximum capacity of just one quarter their usual size.  

Three empty seats and a full empty row will divide each individual or household. 

Film fans may have to queue outside the cinema the same way shoppers have to queue outside supermarkets – and leaving theatres could become more of a hassle too. 

Because show times will be staggered to allow for a thorough clean after the film, and to help staff and customers avoid unnecessary contact, some areas could be made one-way.

PureGym, one of the UK’s largest operators with more than one million members, has said it is ‘extremely disappointed’ in the Prime Minister’s announcement.

In a statement, the company said: ‘We understand that these decisions are not easy, but it is a strange ‘war on obesity’ that sees pubs and restaurants open before gyms.

‘Our facilities are, on average, the size of five or six doubles tennis courts and are exceptionally well ventilated, enabling people to work and exercise safely and securely.

‘Through our existing electronic entry system, we know the names and details of every single member in our facilities at any moment.’

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the further easing of the lockdown will be welcomed by businesses in hospitality and culture, as well as Londoners who will be able to visit pubs, cafes and museums.

But he called on the Government to make face coverings compulsory in places where social distancing is not possible.

Mr Khan said: ‘As the lockdown eases further, it is even more vital that we all act to protect the people around us.

‘The experience of going out will still be very different from what it was before.

‘The Government needs to act urgently to ensure the necessary legislation and support is in place to allow venues to operate safely under the new one metre-plus rule, providing comprehensive guidance on how social distancing will be maintained.

‘It is also important that the Government change the guidance to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory where social distancing may be impossible, including in shops and hairdressers.’

New figures showed the number of excess deaths in the UK since the coronavirus outbreak began has passed 65,000.

Excess deaths are the number of deaths that are above the five-year average for the time period. 

The Office for National Statistics recorded 59,252 in England and Wales between March 21 and June 12.

Last week the National Records of Scotland found there were 4,877 excess deaths between March 16 and June 14, while the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency put the figure for Northern Ireland at 972 excess deaths between March 28 and June 12.

Together, this means the total number of excess deaths in the UK across this period now stands at 65,101.

All figures are based on death registrations.

The 559 excess deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending June 12 was the lowest number since the week ending March 20.

In the week ending June 12, the number of deaths in hospitals was below the five-year average.

This was the second week in a row there had been no excess deaths in this setting.

There were still excess deaths registered in both care homes and private homes during this week, although the number was down on the previous seven days.

Meanwhile, former chancellor Sajid Javid has warned that an immediate economic bounceback from the coronavirus crisis is unlikely.

Gyms could reopen by mid-July, says minister 

Gyms could be open by the middle of July as long as it is safe to do so, a Cabinet minister revealed today in a boost for the nation’s fitness.

Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden said it was an ‘aspiration’ to reopen indoor fitness within weeks, after they were left off a list of venues that will be allowed to reopen on July 4.

Gyms and sports centres were listed along with spas and beauty salons as venues where it was still too dangerous to reopen by Boris Johnson this afternoon, due to the risk of infection.

But in a later tweet Mr Dowden revealed plans were underway for them to reopen.

It came as former Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne warned the industry could lose 50,000 jobs if gyms remain closed.

In a joint report with the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) think-tank, Tory MP Mr Javid called for national insurance to be given a ‘significant temporary’ reduction to make it cheaper for employers to take on staff.

The former Cabinet minister, who resigned from the Treasury in February, said ‘early hopes of a V-shaped recovery’ had ‘proved optimistic’.

He predicted that ‘some long-term damage to the economy’ had become ‘unavoidable’, with as many as 2.5 million people out of work due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

But in order to speed up the rate of people re-entering employment, Mr Javid argued in the report After The Virus, published on Tuesday, that ministers must make it easier for businesses to hire workers.

‘If we want to support and stimulate employment, then axiomatically the best option is to cut the payroll tax – employer’s National Insurance,’ Mr Javid and the CPS said.

‘Tax employment less, and all other things being equal you will end up with more of it.’

Other recommendations made in the report include temporarily cutting VAT and bringing forward ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure projects, with Mr Javid arguing that the ‘only way out of this crisis is growth’.

He added in a column for The Daily Telegraph: ‘With an unrelenting focus on growth and our hardest-hit areas, it is possible not only to rebuild our economy, but to set it on even firmer foundations than before.’

He joins fellow former chancellor Alistair Darling in calling for an emergency VAT cut to boost consumer spending, a move undertaken by the Labour peer after the 2008 financial crisis.

Government to announce quarantine-free ‘air corridors’ to countries such as France, Spain, Greece, Italy and Turkey 

 Britons will be able to take quarantine-free foreign holidays within a fortnight as the government prepares to announce ‘air corridors’ with a series of popular destinations. 

Quarantine-free deals are on the verge of being struck with countries including France, Spain, Greece, Italy and Turkey. 

The list will be revealed within days, amid claims Downing Street is desperately looking for a way to ditch the blanket 14-day isolation rule for UK arrivals.

Businesses and airlines have voiced fury at the restrictions, while experts have branded it ‘pointless’ when other countries have lower infection rates. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night that details of the air bridges will be published in ‘good time’ ahead of a June 29 review of the quarantine.

It came as Spain appealed for British tourists to visit saying their holidays will not be ‘radically’ affected by temperature checks and health forms.  

Travel firms have slashed the price of a one-week holiday to £300 after Downing Street signalled ‘travel corridors’ could be introduced to 10 countries from July 4, with no 14-day quarantine on return to the UK.  

Shaggy-haired Britons will be desperate to get their mops cut as soon as lockdown rules are further eased.

But customers could face a three-month waiting list for a trim and some salons said they will reopen at midnight to clear the huge backlog.

Appointments are already full for the first two weeks after doors swing open, with one London hairdresser preparing to work through a 2,000-strong queue.

Parlours are among businesses expected to reopen in England from July 4 in a move dubbed ‘Super Saturday’ by some MPs.

Northern Ireland salons are set to reopen on July 6, Wales will be open for appointment only from July 13, but no date has been announced for Scotland.

It will come as a relief to the public, who have either had a crack at their own barnets or left them to grow uncontrollably for three months.

It will also bring joy to the 600,000 employees from 50,000 businesses across the country who have been off work.

But hairdressers will not look the same after lockdown, with some of the proposed changes being:

  • Appointments to be made remotely, with no dropping in on the day of the haircut
  • Temperature testing for clients and staff on arrival
  • Waiting outside might be required until a customer is ushered in by their stylist
  • Reception desk will have a Perspex screen or be completely gone
  • Payments will be contactless, with no cash tipping
  • Chairs will be spaced out to observe social distancing guidelines
  • Stylists will wear masks and gowns that are changed after each client
  • Clients will be asked to wear masks and leave jewellery, handbags and coats at home wherever possible
  • Luxuries of tea, coffee and magazines will not be provided, so customers should bring their own
  • Hand sanitisers will be dotted throughout the salon
  • Juniors will not be assisting stylists, but sanitising sinks and surfaces between clients

Hellen Ward from Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London said before they start cutting they need to assess the damage clients have done to themselves.

She said there were already 2,000 people on the waiting list, making it a three-month wait for some customers.

She told the Telegraph: ‘It will take a while, partly because we have to work out what they have done to their hair during lockdown to work out how long a booking will take.’

Meanwhile The Chair in Canterbury, Kent, revealed it will open from midnight to 4pm on July 4 to get a head start on the backlog.

Owner Katie Hancock and another hairdresser are readying for the night shift before other workers start in the morning.

The move will only be for the first day, but the salon’s normal opening hours will be extended like many across the country.

Ms Hancock said: ‘Obviously the health and safety of our clients and stylists is the priority. All of our services will take a bit longer than usual.’

Boris Johnson’s full speech to the House of Commons on easing coronavirus lockdown 

Mr Speaker, with permission I will update the House on the next steps in our plan to rebuild our economy and reopen our society, while waging our struggle against Covid-19.

From the outset, we have trusted in the common sense and perseverance of the British people and their response has more than justified our faith.

Since I set out our plan on the 11th May, we have been clear that our cautious relaxation of the guidance is entirely conditional on our continued defeat of the virus.

In the first half of May, nearly 69,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 across the UK; by the first half of June, that total had fallen by nearly 70 percent to just under 22,000.

The number of new infections is now declining by between 2 and 4 per cent every day.

Four weeks ago, an average of 1 in 400 people in the community in England had COVID-19; in the first half of June, this figure was 1 in 1,700.

We created a human shield around the NHS and in turn our doctors and nurses have protected us, and together we have saved our hospitals from being overwhelmed.

On the 11th May, 1,073 people were admitted to hospital in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with Covid-19, by 20th June, this had fallen by 74 per cent to 283.

This pandemic has inflicted permanent scars and we mourn everyone we have lost.

Measured by a seven-day rolling average, the number of daily deaths peaked at 943 on the 14th April, on 11th May it was 476, and yesterday, the rolling average stood at 130.

We have ordered over 2.2billion items of protective equipment from UK based manufacturers, many of whose production lines have been called into being to serve this new demand – and yesterday, we conducted or posted 139,659 tests, bringing the total to over 8 million.

And while we remain vigilant, we do not believe there is currently a risk of a second peak of infections that might overwhelm the NHS.

Taking everything together, we continue to meet our five tests and the Chief Medical Officers of all four home nations have downgraded the UK’s Covid Alert Level from four to three, meaning that we no longer face a virus spreading exponentially, though it remains in general circulation.

The administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland hold responsibility for their own lockdown restrictions and they will respond to the united view of the Chief Medical Officers at their own pace, based on their own judgment.

But all parts of the UK are now travelling in the same direction and we will continue to work together to ensure that everyone in our country gets the support they need.

Thanks to our progress, we can now go further and safely ease the lockdown in England.

At every stage, caution will remain our watchword, and each step will be conditional and reversible.

Mr Speaker, given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus, we can change the two-metre social distancing rule, from 4th July.

I know this rule effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy, even without other restrictions.

For example, it prevents all but a fraction of our hospitality industry from operating.

Mr Johnson set out changes that will see pubs and restaurants open with protections in place

Mr Johnson set out changes that will see pubs and restaurants open with protections in place

Mr Johnson set out changes that will see pubs and restaurants open with protections in place

So that is why almost two weeks ago, I asked our experts to conduct a review and I will place a summary of their conclusions in the libraries of both Houses this week.

Where it is possible to keep two metres apart people should.

But where it is not, we will advise people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’, meaning they should remain one metre apart, while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission.

We are today publishing guidance on how businesses can reduce the risk by taking certain steps to protect workers and customers.

These include, for instance, avoiding face-to-face seating by changing office layouts, reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, closing non-essential social spaces, providing hand sanitiser and changing shift patterns so that staff work in set teams.

And of course, we already mandate face coverings on public transport. 

Whilst the experts cannot give a precise assessment of how much the risk is reduced, they judge these mitigations would make ‘1 metre plus’ broadly equivalent to the risk at two metres if those mitigations are fully implemented.

Either will be acceptable and our guidance will change accordingly. 

This vital change enables the next stage of our plan to ease the lockdown.

Mr Speaker, I am acutely conscious people will ask legitimate questions about why certain activities are allowed and others are not.

I must ask the House to understand that the virus has no interest in these debates.

Its only interest, its only ambition is to exploit any opportunities is to recapture ground that we might carelessly vacate.

There is one certainty: the fewer social contacts you have, the safer you will be.

My duty, our duty as the Government, is to guide the British people, balancing our overriding aim of controlling the virus against our natural desire to bring back normal life.

We cannot lift all the restrictions at once, so we have to make difficult judgments, and every step is scrupulously weighed against the evidence.

Our principle is to trust the British public to use their common sense in the full knowledge of the risks, remembering that the more we open up, the more vigilant we will need to be.

From now on we will ask people to follow guidance on social contact instead of legislation.

In that spirit we advise that from 4 July, two households of any size should be able to meet in any setting inside or out.

That does not mean they must always be the same two households.

It will be possible for instance to meet one set of grandparents one weekend, and the others the following weekend.

We are not recommending meetings of multiple households indoors because of the risk of creating greater chains of transmission.

Outside, the guidance remains that people from several households can meet in groups of up to six.

And it follows that two households can also meet, regardless of size.

Mr Speaker, I can tell the House that we will also re-open restaurants and pubs.

All hospitality indoors will be limited to table-service, and our guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact.

We will ask businesses to help NHS Test and Trace respond to any local outbreaks by collecting contact details from customers, as happens in other countries, and we will work with the sector to make this manageable.

Almost as eagerly awaited as a pint will be a haircut, particularly by me, and so we will re-open hairdressers, with appropriate precautions, including the use of visors.

We also intend to allow some other close contact services, such as nail bars, to re-open as soon as we can, when we are confident they can operate in a Covid-secure way.

From 4th July, provided that no more than two households stay together, people will be free to stay overnight in self-contained accommodation, including hotels and bed & breakfasts, as well as campsites as long as shared facilities are kept clean.

Most leisure facilities and tourist attractions will reopen if they can do so safely, including outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades as well as libraries, social clubs and community centres.

‘Close proximity’ venues such as nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools and spas will need to remain closed for now, as will bowling alleys and water parks.

But my RHFs the Business and Culture Secretaries will establish taskforces with public health experts and these sectors to help them become Covid-secure and re-open as soon as possible.

We will also work with the arts industry on specific guidance to enable choirs, orchestras and theatres to resume live performances as soon as possible.

Recreation and sport will be allowed, but indoor facilities, including changing rooms and courts, will remain closed and people should only play close contact team sports with members of their household.

Mr Speaker, I know that many have mourned the closure of places of worship, and this year, Easter, Passover and Eid all occurred during the lockdown.

So I am delighted that places of worship will be able to reopen for prayer and services – including weddings with a maximum of 30 people, all subject to social distancing.

Meanwhile, our courts, probation services, police stations and other public services will increasingly resume face-to-face proceedings.

Wrap-around care for school age children and formal childcare will restart over the summer.

Primary and secondary education will recommence in September with full attendance and those children who can already go to school should do so – because it is safe.

Mr Speaker, we will publish Covid-secure guidelines for every sector that is re-opening, and slowly but surely, these measures will restore a sense of normality.

After the toughest restrictions in peacetime history, we are now able to make life easier for people to see more of their friends and families and to help businesses get back on their feet and get people back into work.

But the virus has not gone away. We will continue to monitor the data with the Joint Biosecurity Centre and our ever more effective Test and Trace system.

And I must be clear to the House, that as we have seen in other countries, there will be flare-ups for which local measures will be needed and we will not hesitate to apply the brakes and re-introduce restrictions even at national level – if required.

So I urge everyone to stay alert, control the virus and save lives.

Let’s keep washing our hands, staying 2 metres apart wherever feasible, and mitigating the risks at 1 metre where not avoiding public transport when possible, and wearing a mask when not, getting tested immediately if we have symptoms, and self-isolating if instructed by NHS Test and Trace.

Today, we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our shops, streets and homes and a new, but cautious, optimism is palpable.

But it would be all too easy for that frost to return and that is why we will continue to trust in the common sense and the community spirit of the British people to follow this guidance, to carry us through and see us to victory over this virus.

I commend Mr Speaker this Statement to the House. 

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