Boris Johnson urged Britons to get out and ‘enjoy themselves’ as he unveiled a conditional end to lockdown in time for the holidays.
In a calculated gamble to head off economic disaster, he said pubs, restaurants, tourism and much of the entertainment industry could reopen from July 4.
Different households will be allowed to meet up indoors for meals and even stay the night – although they will still not be allowed to hug. Small weddings will be permitted while hairdressers, libraries, cinemas, playgrounds and theme parks can open their doors again from ‘Super Saturday’.
The two-metre rule is being softened under a sweeping return of personal freedoms.
The Prime Minister said he wanted to see ‘bustle and activity’ return to towns and cities after three months of restrictions that have pushed the economy to the brink.
In a calculated gamble to head off economic disaster, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said pubs, restaurants, tourism and much of the entertainment industry could reopen from July 4
With families now given the green light for a summer staycation, he urged UK resorts to ‘roll out the welcome mat’. But, with cases of coronavirus still running at more than 1,000 a day, some high-risk sectors will remain closed, including gyms, swimming pools, nightclubs and bowling alleys.
Mr Johnson warned ministers ‘will not hesitate to apply the brakes and reintroduce restrictions, even at national level’.
‘Our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end,’ he told MPs. ‘Life is returning to our shops, streets and homes.
‘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.’
At last night’s No 10 briefing, the Prime Minister was flanked by the chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, who both struck a notably more cautious note.
Mr Johnson urged people to stick with social-distancing measures and acknowledged that Professor Whitty was ‘particularly concerned’ about the possibility of ‘great writhing scenes in beer gardens when the virus can be passed on’.
The two experts also indicated the measures had not been signed off by the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage). But they said they could live with the new freedoms, provided people stuck to the rules.
Professor Whitty, who warned coronavirus was still likely to be a problem in a year’s time, said: ‘Personally am I comfortable with this? I think this is a reasonable balance of risk, it is absolutely not risk-free. We may at some point say a particular decision is too much of a risk.’
Sir Patrick added: ‘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.’
As it emerged a string of ‘air bridges’ are to be arranged to get around quarantine rules and allow foreign holidays:
- Official figures revealed the cost of propping up jobs has topped £30billion, with 9.2million furloughed and 2.6million self-employed on state aid;
- The daily death toll rose by 171 to just under 43,000. Excess deaths during the pandemic have now topped 65,000;
- A snap poll by YouGov found the public backed the latest lockdown changes by a margin of 47:37;
- The PM said the daily No 10 briefings would be ditched, despite unease among some senior Tories that the move could damage public trust;
- Churches were told they could resume communal services because the disease is spread further by singing;
- The Scottish government signalled a U-turn on schools, saying it now hoped to get all children back next term.
- The PM confirmed he wanted to see ‘all schools’ in England back in September, despite fresh warnings from the unions that the idea was ‘pure fantasy’;
- The PM confirmed he wanted to see ‘all schools’ in England back in September, despite fresh warnings from the unions that the idea was ‘pure fantasy’;
- Despite the easing of restrictions, Mr Johnson said employees should continue to work from home if possible;
- Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the Government hoped to reopen gyms by mid-July, following a backlash from fitness enthusiasts;
- Dominic Cummings outlined plans for a major shakeup of Whitehall;
- Theatres were told they could reopen, but only to screen pre-recorded works.
The Prime Minister yesterday acknowledged the pandemic had ‘inflicted permanent scars’, with tens of thousands of people dying before their time.
But he warned the UK was also set to face ‘real problems of unemployment’, which would require huge job creation schemes, such as building flood defences.
Mr Johnson bowed to pressure over the two-metre rule following a campaign by the Daily Mail and pressure from Tory MPs and the hospitality sector, which warned it faced collapse.
One Tory MP yesterday exclaimed: ‘Hallelujah’ as the PM confirmed the rule was going. Government scientists had advised the rule was needed despite the World Health Organisation saying one metre was safe, and most other countries operating with shorter distances.
A review led by No 10’s permanent secretary Simon Case looked at the economic situation and the global picture as well as the scientific advice before concluding that a reduction was possible.
Under the new ‘one metre plus’ change, businesses such as pubs and restaurants will be allowed to operate with reduced social distancing provided they put ‘mitigations’ in place to slow the spread of the virus, such as outdoor seating.
The new rules are for guidance instead of being enshrined in law, unlike at the start of lockdown. Urging people to be sensible, Mr Johnson said: ‘People should of course enjoy themselves, but this is going to be with us for a while, so people have to adjust and make it work.’
Theatres can open – without actors
Theatres, concert venues and churches will reopen on July 4 – but singing and live performances are banned.
Boris Johnson said he will work with the arts industry towards allowing live shows but they will not be included in the latest relaxations.
He also announced museums, art galleries, cinemas, theme parks and children’s playgrounds can reopen. Outdoor gyms can welcome visitors again too but not indoor fitness centres and pools.
Experts have warned singing can spread coronavirus.
But composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has criticised the ban, saying The Phantom of the Opera has been running safely in South Korea with strict hygiene practices.
And playwright James Graham warned the future of theatres is hanging in the balance. He tweeted: ‘Our world-beating cultural landscape is in collapse.’
Boris Johnson said he will work with the arts industry towards allowing live shows but they will not be included in the latest relaxations. Pictured, pedestrians walk past the Songheim Theatre in London’s West End amid lockdown
Philippa Childs, head of the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union, added: ‘Workers in the theatre industry and live events will be astonished that the Government is still discussing plans to work with experts when the issues have been clear for some time now and the industry is desperate for help now.
‘Redundancy consultations are taking place across the country, thousands of people are facing losing their jobs and Government support is urgently needed to ensure that theatres are able to open in the future.’
Museums and galleries will have to operate one-way systems and limit numbers when they reopen on July 4.
And cinemas-goers will likely face a radically different experience with a ban on pick and mix, and potentially three empty seat spaces between customers.
More than 450 films will be available to cinemas to help them entice audiences back.
Blockbuster series will include Harry Potter, The Fast and Furious, Batman, The Matrix, The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga and Back To The Future trilogy.
Aquariums will also be allowed to reopen.
Families and friends can all meet up at home. But no hugging… yet
by Jason Groves, Political Editor for the Daily Mail
The public will soon be able to visit friends and loved ones in their homes again – but not hug them – under new social distancing guidance unveiled by Boris Johnson.
From July 4, families will be allowed to meet with members of one other household indoors, provided they maintain social distancing.
The move paves the way for families and friends to meet up for meals, and even stay overnight for the first time since lockdown began on March 23.
From July 4, families will be allowed to meet with members of one other household indoors, provided they maintain social distancing. Pictured, a group of friends on a day trip from Southampton to Bournemouth, Dorset
There is no limit on the size of the households involved or the distance travelled, although the measures apply only in England for now. Friends and families can even holiday together, provided only two households are involved.
Haircuts at midnight
Hairdressers will open as early as midnight on July 4 to finally tame tresses that have gone untouched for three months.
Those who haven’t booked a trim already face disappointment, with some waiting lists having stretched to – that’s right – three months.
Updating MPs on plans to reopen salons, a bedraggled Boris Johnson said he was ‘eagerly awaiting’ his first haircut almost as much as his first pint.
Businesses will only be allowed to open if staff wear gowns and masks or visors. The news will bring joy not just to those with unruly hair but also 33,000 staff across the country – mostly freelancers – who have been left without work since March.
Customers face waiting outside until their appointment begins, while hairdressers will forgo cash tips to take contactless card payments instead. Katie Hancock, owner of The Chair in Canterbury, said her salon would be open from midnight to 4pm on July 4 to start clearing its considerable backlog. ‘Obviously the health and safety of our clients and stylists is the priority,’ she said. ‘All of our services will take a bit longer than usual.’
Richard Ward Hair and Metrospa in Chelsea, west London – whose celebrity clients include the Duchess of Cambridge – said its waiting list has already topped 2,500, meaning another three-month delay for some.
Co-founder Hellen Ward said her team was expecting to see a ‘few bad haircuts’ from customers who braved a DIY lockdown cut. Of the new ‘one metre plus’ social distancing rule, she said: ‘It means we can have 46 chairs instead of 23 and therefore we can have twice as many staff on-site.’
There will still be social distancing, meaning members of different households will not be permitted close contact – leaving most grandparents still unable to hug their grandchildren.
The Prime Minister told MPs the plan would help ‘restore a sense of normality’. The move represents a compromise between Mr Johnson’s desire to allow family reunions and the caution of scientists who fear that widespread mixing of households could spark a new wave of coronavirus cases.
No 10 yesterday acknowledged that the proposals stopped ‘a very significant way from what you would describe as normal life’, but said the relaxations were the maximum currently possible.
Mr Johnson said ministers had to make ‘difficult judgments’ about how far they could safely go in easing restrictions.
The PM had originally wanted two or three households to be permitted to form social ‘bubbles’, within which social distancing could be abandoned. The idea was included in his ‘road map’ for ending the lockdown published in mid-May.
Earlier this month, single-person households were given permission to form ‘bubbles’ with one other household in order to ease loneliness. But scientists deemed it was too risky to expand the scheme to all households.
Under yesterday’s compromise, families can now meet indoors again provided they maintain their distance.
However, the new proposal is more flexible than the ‘bubble’ scheme, which requires households to form exclusive arrangements with each other. Families will be able to meet with several different households, provided they do so one at a time.
Outlining the plans in the Commons, Mr Johnson said: ‘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.’
Downing Street said that in theory people could have dinner with members of a different household every night, but urged everyone to act responsibly.
The PM’s spokesman acknowledged that the new rules on indoor gatherings would be difficult to enforce but said ministers believed the public could be trusted to use their common sense.
Mr Johnson told MPs: ‘Our principle is to trust the British public to use their common sense in the full knowledge of the risks.
‘From now on we will ask people to follow guidance on social contact instead of legislation.’ Guidance on outdoor gatherings remains largely unchanged. Six people from different households can still meet outdoors provided they keep their distance. But, in a minor change, any number from two households can now meet outdoors.
The new rules will also apply to those hoping to meet at restaurants and pubs, with groups of diners and drinkers asked to stick to the two-household rule.
Roll out the welcome mat! Boris’ plea to tourist areas as he gives the green light to staycations
By Daniel Martin, Policy Editor for the Daily Mail
Boris Johnson yesterday urged the country’s holiday areas to ‘roll out the welcome mat’ as he announced that hotels will be able to open from July 4.
Suenos guesthouse in Eastern Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, is a five star boutique hotel locked in a fight for survival. Pictured, owners Teresa and Neil Jones, both age 48
Will any guests come?
The owners of the luxury Suenos Guesthouse in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, have no doubt they could open by July 4 – they’re just not convinced people will come.
So they are planning to reopen a few days later, on July 10.
Teresa Jones, who runs the business with husband Neil, said: ‘We are a small business and can adhere to these guidelines, so that’s not a problem for us.
‘We’re probably more concerned about whether the general public has the confidence.’ Mr and Mrs Jones, pictured, believe holidaymakers will prefer large, impersonal hotels to small, intimate B&Bs and guesthouses where the emphasis is on personal interaction.
Another concern is how quickly businesses such as pubs and restaurants open up in the surrounding area. s
‘That’s critical to us because there’s no point in people coming here if they can’t go and get food and refreshments from local places,’ said Mrs Jones, 48.
The Prime Minister said people will also be able to stay overnight in bed and breakfasts and holiday cottages – as long as shared facilities such as bathrooms are kept clean.
And campsites and caravan parks will be able to open as the Government urges people to visit England’s beauty spots for staycations.
New guidance says self-catering holiday homes can open for business on July 4 for the first time since lockdown. People will also be allowed to visit their second homes.
However, youth hostels must remain shut because guests from different households would have to share dormitories.
Downing Street said people will be able to travel by train or bus to reach their holiday destination.
Mr Johnson hit out at those who have urged people not to travel to holiday areas, saying they should not be putting up ‘not welcome here’ signs.
Last month a number of Cornish MPs said they supported calls for people to stay away from the county while the virus was at its height.
Addressing MPs, Mr Johnson said: ‘One thing that I would say, respectfully, to all those who represent tourist areas of this country, is that now is perhaps the time to send out a welcoming signal to those from other parts of our country and to roll out the welcome mat, rather than the “Not welcome here” sign.’
Allowing hotels in England to reopen is a ‘huge relief’, according to a leading tourism body.
Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, said: ‘Reducing social distancing from two metres to one will also ensure that many more businesses will be able to viably reopen at the start of next month.’
VisitEngland director Patricia Yates said the announcement was ‘great news for England’s tourism industry and the millions of jobs and local economies that depend on it’.
Pubs will have to take your name and number
Pubs, restaurants and cafes will have to take contact details for customers when they reopen.
This will be in case they need to be identified as part of the NHS tracing regime to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Announcing the reopening, as social distancing is reduced to a metre, Boris Johnson told MPs: ‘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.’
The Prime Minister did not say exactly which businesses will be required to collect contact details and there was some confusion in Whitehall about how far the policy will go.
Sources suggested it would include eat-in coffee shops and cafes. Official guidelines are expected to be published today.
Friends celebrate pubs opening soon with a takeaway beer in Barnes in South West London. Leading pub chains, including Wetherspoons and Greene King, will encourage customers to use phone apps to order and pay
Many pubs will operate a booking system to control numbers, which is likely to result in supermarket-style queues at the door.
Leading pub chains, including Wetherspoons and Greene King, will encourage customers to use phone apps to order and pay.
Many bars will be fitted with Perspex screens, hand sanitiser and floor stickers indicating a one-way system. Tables will be spaced at least one metre apart.
There will be more regular cleaning – possibly every 15 minutes – of toilets, tables, door handles and public areas.
In some chains, staff will undergo temperature checks and fill in health questionnaires before each shift. Some will have the option to wear masks, gloves and eye protection. And when serving drinks, they will handle only the bottom of the glass.
The British Beer and Pubs Association said reducing social distancing will enable 28,000 pubs – three in four – to reopen, saving thousands of jobs, but chief executive Emma McClarkin warned: ‘We do have significant concerns over the collection and storage of personal customer data when visiting the pub.’
UK Hospitality, which speaks for restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and the wider industry, said businesses will find it difficult to set up a secure system to handle customers’ contact details.