Outdoor hospitality, shops, gyms and hairdressers to reopen next week
Significant parts of the indoor economy and some outdoor settings will reopen from Monday, after data confirmed the government’s ‘four tests’ for easing Covid restrictions had been met.
Non-essential retail, hairdressers, beauty and nail salons, gyms, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas, drive-in performances events, libraries, and community centres will all open.
Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and no curfew. The requirement to eat and drink while seated will remain.
Overnight stays away from home in England will be permitted and self-contained accommodation can also reopen, but these must only be used by members of the same household or support bubble.
Prime minister Boris Johnson made the announcement last night. However, he continued to urge caution, with no changes to social contact rules and many restrictions still in place.
Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to six people or two households. Indoor socialising with anyone outside your household or support bubble is still banned.
The easing of restrictions is going ahead following the ongoing success of the UK’s vaccination programme, and reduced coronavirus hospitalisations and deaths.
Johnson also said people should continue to work from home, and minimise domestic travel where they can. International holidays are still illegal.
The number of care home visitors will also increase to two per resident, and all children will be able to attend any indoor children’s activity, including sport. Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five-years-old) can restart indoors.
Funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees, while weddings, outdoor receptions, and wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (but only in premises permitted to open).
The government also announced plans for a controversial Covid-status certification system to be developed over the coming months. This could allow higher-risk settings to be opened up more safely and with more participants.
Over the coming months, a system will be developed which will take into account three factors: vaccination, a recent negative test, or natural immunity (determined on the basis of a positive test taken in the previous six months).
Events pilots will take place from mid-April to trial the system.
The government has also announced plans for a ‘traffic light system’ for international travel.