Two-metre rule HALVED to let people meet indoors and stay OVERNIGHT from July 4

Boris Johnson today dramatically unwound the coronavirus lockdown, declaring that pubs, haircuts and weddings can return and giving family and friends the green light to meet up indoors for the first time in months.

Throwing the dice to save the stricken economy, the PM told the Commons that bars, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers can get back up and running in England from July 4 – dubbed ‘Super Saturday’.

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.

Staycations are also 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. 

Downing Street insisted the overhaul has been approved by medical chief Chris Whitty and science chief Patrick Vallance. However, in a sign of the risks involved, Mr Johnson warned that the changes will be reversed immediately if people abuse the new rules and the disease flares up again.

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

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

Yesterday’s death toll rose by 15 – the lowest figure since March 13, ten days before the lockdown began.

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; 
  • 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;
  • 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 unveiled steps to ease lockdown in the Commons today, but warned that the changes will be reversed immediately if people abuse the new rules and the disease flares up again

Boris Johnson was out for a walk with dog Dilyn this morning before he unveils the lockdown easing later

Boris Johnson was out for a walk with dog Dilyn this morning before he unveils the lockdown easing later 

Customers queue up for a drink outside The Dynamo bar in Putney, South London, on June 19

Customers queue up for a drink outside The Dynamo bar in Putney, South London, on June 19

Cinemas, pubs and hairdressers will today get the green light to reopen on July 4, as Boris Johnson signals the end of lockdown. The relaxation comes amid growing optimism that the virus, which has claimed more than 42,000 lives in the UK, is finally reducing to manageable proportions

Cinemas, pubs and hairdressers will today get the green light to reopen on July 4, as Boris Johnson signals the end of lockdown. The relaxation comes amid growing optimism that the virus, which has claimed more than 42,000 lives in the UK, is finally reducing to manageable proportions

Just 15 coronavirus deaths were announced in the UK today - the lowest figure recorded since the middle of March

Just 15 coronavirus deaths were announced in the UK today – the lowest figure recorded since the middle of March

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

Boris Johnson unveiled a widely expected relaxation of the lockdown 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
  • Cafes
  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Reopening: 
  • Hotels
  • Bed and Breakfasts 
  • Holiday homes
  • Campsites and caravan parks
  • Places of worship 
  • Libraries
  • Community centres
  • Museums
  • Art galleries
  • Workplace canteens
  • Cinemas
  • Bingo halls
  • Theatres and concert halls (but no live performances)
  • Barbers and hair salons
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • Outdoor gyms
  • Funfairs, theme parks and adventure parks and activities
  • Amusement arcades
  • Indoor leisure centres and facilities including indoor gaming
  • Social clubs
  • Model villages 
  • Indoor attractions at aquariums, zoos and safari parks, farms and wildlife centres

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 

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

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.  

In a sombre speech in the Commons, 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 they can.

‘But he added: ‘Where it is not we will advise people to keep a safe distance of one metre plus.’  

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.

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

Pubs warn customers to pre-book as they brace for a rush on reopening 

Pub 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.

Customers are expected to be allowed back into pubs from July 4 as they are allowed to open again after shutting on March 20 just before lockdown began.

But pub-goers may 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.

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.

Holidays within a FORTNIGHT: Government will 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.  

A Downing Street source warned: ‘We are only able to move forward this week because the vast majority of people have taken steps to control the virus.

‘But the more we open up, the more important it is that everyone follows the social distancing guidelines. We will not hesitate to reverse these steps if it is necessary to stop the virus running out of control.’ 

The changes will only apply in England for now. 

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, 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 is expected to confirm that from July 4 the British tourist industry can reopen, giving millions the hope of a ‘staycation’ in the UK this summer.

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.

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.

Hair salons to open at midnight on July 4 to clear huge backlog

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 as some salons say 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.

‘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. 

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told Today: ‘I appreciate many people do want to see things starting to get back to whatever that new normal will be.’

Pressed on how social distancing would be enforced in reopened pubs, he said: ‘If we are able to say to pubs, and other establishments, that they are able to open in the near future, we will be issuing guidelines as well.

‘So that they can have some confidence about what is expected of them to create a safe environment.’

No more minibars or buffet breakfasts: Hotels plan a very different experience on July 4 

One of Britain’s biggest hotel operators has announced plans to reopen hundreds of its sites – but mini-bars and buffet breakfasts will be taken off the menu.  

French company Accor, which owns brands including Novotel, Mercure, Ibis and Sofi tel, is aiming to reopen some of its 270 hotels from the start of July. 

Free tea and coffee sachets will be quarantined for 48 hours after use, while the rooms themselves will be left empty for 24 hours between guests.

Visitors will be given the option to order ‘grab-and-go’ meals which can be eaten in their rooms or in social distance compliant communal areas, with Accor set to keep its hotel bars and restaurants closed initially.

Other changes include floor markers to help maintain social distancing, hand sanitiser stations and Perspex screens at reception to protect staff and customers.

Mr Lewis said: ‘One of the things we will be issuing, once we make these decisions today, and the Prime Minister makes his announcement, will be guidelines for all of us as individuals, and as employers, to look at how we act and practise in a safe and healthy environment as we go forward.’

He added: ‘I think the reality is we are all going to have to get used to this new kind of normal as we go forward, where we have to take some self-responsibility.’

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.’

The future of Britain’s hospitality sector: How pubs, hairdressers and hotels will look in the post-lockdown era

PUBS

Drinkers would be expected to give their contact details in a register, so that they can be traced if it emerges later that someone infected was in the venue.

Customers could be advised to order using an app, stand as far apart as possible, face away from each other where they can, and prefer outside spaces.

RESTAURANTS

Tables could be closer together than two metres as long as people can face away from each other, and there may be advice for ‘side-sitting’ when people are dining together.

Rules could be slacker for those who dine outside.

Disposable cutlery might be needed in many restaurants, and there will be thorough cleaning in between guests.

Booking is likely to be compulsory in formal settings. 

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

TRAINS AND PLANES

Face coverings have already been made compulsory on public transport, with passengers who break the rules risking fines.

Reducing the minimum distance will increase the potential for trains, Tube and buses to run at higher capacity – allowing more people to go back to work.

Airlines will also benefit from lowering the spacing requirement, which they had warned could make it economically impossible to run flights. Face coverings will again be relied on to help reduce the risk of transmission, along with temperature checks.

There is the possibility that some seating could be reconfigured to limit how many people face each other, and screens could also be deployed. 

Under a two-metre social distancing rule on carriages and platforms, the Underground will only be able to accommodate 50,000 passengers boarding every 15 minutes - a massive reduction on the 320,000 people every 15 minutes during normal peak times

Under a two-metre social distancing rule on carriages and platforms, the Underground will only be able to accommodate 50,000 passengers boarding every 15 minutes – a massive reduction on the 320,000 people every 15 minutes during normal peak times

HAIRDRESSERS  

The hairdressing experience will be vastly different than before lockdown, with stylists required to take steps to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The National Hair and Beauty Federation released a set of guidelines last month to help businesses prepare themselves for reopening.

It suggested walk-in salons switch to an appointment-only system, or offer timed tickets to allow customers to ‘reserve’ their slot and return at the designated time.

To reduce the amount of time a customer spends in the chair, salons have been advised to trial online consultations where they will be able to discuss treatments.

SHOPS

Perspex screens, face coverings and ‘quarantine’ for goods handled by customers are already being used to reduce the potential for spread.

But cutting the social distancing will benefit smaller shops in particular, and help boost footfall.

More people will be allowed in shops at once. It is also possible that browsing could be time limited to curb the length of exposure – which along with distance is a key component in spreading the virus. 

HOTELS 

Those who are planning a getaway can expect hotels to be significantly different to those they visited before the coronavirus outbreak.

After making your reservation, visitors should expect a pre-visit health questionnaire to land in their inbox, asking if they have recently had coronavirus symptoms.

Check-in times are likely to be staggered, or set later in the afternoon, to allow for deep cleaning of rooms. At the seven-strong collection of The Pig Hotels in south-west England, for example, this has switched from 3 pm to 4 pm.

Valet parking and baggage handling could also be a thing of the past, though luggage may be disinfected on arrival.

Protective screens, distance-marking lines and one-way routes may be implemented in larger properties.

Hotel bars, if they are opened, will likely be table service only, while dining tables will be arranged to satisfy the two-metre rule, and probably be without linen.

Room service is also encouraged with many properties dropping the tray charge. Menu choices are likely to be restricted and delivery will be only to the bedroom door.

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