England is on track on its path out of lockdown, with Boris Johnson today confirming that hospitality and cultural venues will be allowed to reopen as planned on Saturday July 4 after what he described as ‘the toughest restrictions in peacetime history’.
That includes pubs, bars, cafés, restaurants, museums, galleries, and cinemas, as well as hairdressers and beauty salons. Outdoor gyms, playgrounds and theme parks will also be allowed to reopen from July 4, although ‘close proximity venues’ will not be allowed to join this wave of reopenings. This sadly means indoor gyms, swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys and night clubs will not reopen yet.
Along with confirming the date for Step Three of Stage Two (read more here if you want to know what that actually means) on England’s ‘roadmap out of lockdown’, the prime minister also shared details with the House of Commons on how those reopenings might actually look. One of the biggest developments is that the two-metre rule has been scrapped in favour of a more modest one-metre distance between people.
‘This rule effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy,’ said Johnson of the existing two-metre rule. The prime minister said that experts had reviewed the two-metre rule and that a ‘one-metre-plus’ rule was now being introduced. This would mean that people could come as close as one metre apart from each other in instances where the two-metre rule couldn’t be upheld.
The prime minister said that in instances where two metres couldn’t be adhered to, other ‘mitigations’ could help to prevent the transmission of the virus. These measures would include protective screens and face coverings, shift patterns and reduced staff levels, improving ventilation within indoors spaces and visors used in businesses such as hair salons. Johnson suggested the risk at one metre plus would be broadly equivalent to the risk at two metres if those mitigations were implemented.
Some people are now dubbing July 4 ‘Super Saturday’, as more of our freedoms return and more businesses bounce back after over three months of closures.
However, the prime minister cautioned: ‘There is only one certainty. The fewer social contacts you have, the safer you will be.’
Shops are already open – check out the changes to Oxford Street.
Read the latest social-distancing measures in place in London.