Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers to re-open as Boris Johnson unveils biggest easing to lockdown after relaxing 2-metre rule
Boris Johnson unveiled the biggest changes to lockdown so far (Sky News)
The hospitality industry will be able to re-open from 4 July as Boris Johnson unveiled the biggest easing of lockdown restrictions yet.
The Prime Minister said the fall in new infections in recent weeks has allowed him to finally reduce the two-metre rule on social distancing, which unlocks the vital sector of economy.
Speaking in the House of Commons he revealed pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers will be among the businesses able to open again in less than two weeks time - as long as they follow new guidelines on making their premises Covid-secure.
The new guidance is for a "one metre plus" system, with people asked to keep at least a metre apart while adhering to other safety measures, such as wearing masks on public transport, protective screens, specific seating layouts and hygiene arrangements.
And the PM said any hospitality indoors "will be limited to table-service, and our guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact".
Patrons will also be asked to give their name and contact information when they arrive, to help NHS Test and Trace respond to any local outbreaks, as has been introduced in other countries that have re-opened.
Mr Johnson added: "Today we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our streets and to our shops.
"The bustle is starting to come back and a new but cautious optimism is palpable.
"I must say to the House it will be all to 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.”
Other places set to unlock their doors are hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday homes, campsites, caravan parks and boarding houses, though the announcement only applies to England.
Places of worship, libraries, community centres, cinemas, bingo halls, museums and galleries can also re-open, as can theatres and concert halls - but without any live performances.
The PM said this means "weddings with a maximum of 30 people" can also take place again next month.
Outdoor playgrounds and gyms can re-open, but indoor gyms, swimming polls, spa and fitness and dance studios will not be allowed to.
Nightclubs, casinos, bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks will also have to wait to get going again, having been dubbed “close proximity” venues.
And while barbers and hairdressers can reopen with "appropriate precautions" like visors, other "close contact services" such as nail bars, beauty salons, massage, tattoo and piercing parlours, will also have to stay closed for now.
Mr Johnson went on to reveal another major change to people’s social lives, with people now allowed to invite another household into their homes, and stay over, with no limit on the size of the group and no rule on exclusivity.
The PM explained: “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.”
This new policy is separate to the “support bubble” system previously announced, and is based on what the Government says is clear evidence the UK is getting coronavirus under control, with the R rate below one and the number of infections falling at a rate of 2-4% a day.
It comes a day after Britain recorded its lowest daily death toll since mid-March, with just 15 deaths registered on Sunday.
And the number of new cases dropped to below 1,000 for the first time since lockdown began on 23 March.
But the Government is warning if the virus begins to pick up again they won't hesitate "to put the handbrake on and reverse" the changes" announced.
In response the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the PM's statement.
He said: "We will study the guidance, and there are obviously a number of questions that need to be answered, but overall I welcome this statement.
"I believe the Government is trying to do the right thing and in that, we will support them."