After nearly four months in lockdown, Boris Johnson has announced that pubs and restaurants can start reopening in England on 4 July as part of the government’s third phase of easing lockdown restrictions.
In a speech delivered in the House of Commons on Tuesday 23 June, the prime minister also confirmed that a review of social distancing has concluded that the two-metre rule in place since March can be reduced to one metre, which was regarded as essential by the hospitality industry for venues to be financially viable.
Mr Johnson also confirmed that England’s cultural sector will be able to reopen, with cinemas, museums and galleries able to open their doors from the first Saturday in July.
Meanwhile, hairdressers and beauty salons will finally also be able to reopen after having been closed for more than three months.
Mr Johnson added that theme parks, libraries, social clubs, community centres, and arcades may also reopen.
However, he confirmed that nightclubs, soft play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools and spas will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
But how will these sectors adapt to the new restrictions? And how will it impact the way we experience and enjoy them?
Here’s everything you need to know about what Mr Johnson’s latest announcement means for people in England.
The prime minister confirms that pubs in England will be able to reopen from 4 July.
However, they will have to abide by certain guidelines to ensure they are Covid-secure.
This may include the installation of plastic screens between tables and a New Zealand-style “guest register” to record all visitors so they can be contacted in case of an outbreak linked to the venue.
The founder of the pub chain Oakman Inns has vowed to open all of its sites on 4 July, explaining that not doing so would put many jobs at risk.
Oakman Inns and Restaurants has 25 pubs spread over the south of England and the Midlands.
“We are very confident we have the right measures in place to protect our team and our customers,” says founder Peter Borg-Neal, who points out that his pubs were open until 20 March when the virus was spreading rapidly.
“We took precautions then around constant surface cleaning and hand sanitation and not one of our circa 1,000 employees contracted Covid-19,” Mr Borg-Neal tells The Independent.
Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “It’s great to know our pubs will be able to reopen on 4 July.
“This is an important step for us but it is just the first step on what will be a very a long road to recovery for our sector.”
Restaurants will be able to open in England from 4 July so long as they are Covid-secure and can operate while maintaining social distancing. However, they will be limited to table service.
Some restaurants have already started taking bookings for diners.
It’s not yet clear whether or not restaurants will be allowed to accept diners indoors.
Clare Smyth, who is the first and only female chef to run a restaurant with three Michelin-stars in the UK, is one chef preparing to reopen on 4 July.
Speaking on the Today programme on Monday, Smyth explained what she has done in terms of preparing to reopen her restaurant, Core, in Notting Hill, London.
“We’ve been observing countries across Europe and just anticipating what they’ve been doing such as disposable menus, belongings that are stored in cloakrooms, hand sanitisers, that kind of thing.”
As for how waiters would maintain social distancing when delivering food to table, Smyth said they will wear masks and wash their hands regularly.
“Guest confidence is the most important thing,” she added. “We need to get this right and we need to start slowly.”
Mr Johnson has announced that museums in England will be able to open their doors from 4 July.
It’s likely that visitors will have to book tickets in advance in order for social distancing to be maintained.
Sharon Heal, director of the Museums Association, told The Independent that while the announcement is “great news” for the museums industry, not every museum in England will be able to reopen due to the ramifications caused by the pandemic.
“Museums have lost substantial income during the lockdown and in many cases they will have to think carefully about the cost of reopening and if it is safe for staff, volunteers and visitors to do so,” Heal said.
“Where they can, museums are planning measures such as one-way systems and timed entry and implementing strict health and safety measures in line with government guidance.:
For museums that do reopen next month, Heal said the experience for visitors will be different.
“Cafes and play areas might not be open, but the welcome from front of house staff will be as warm as ever,” she added.
The National Museum Directors’ Council, whose members include directors at the British Library and the Victoria & Albert Museum, concurred in its statement: “While many venues will endeavour to reopen on 4 July, capacities will be constrained by social distancing and some may be unable to trade viably at all, so continued Government support will remain crucial.”
Hairdressers will be able to reopen on 4 July in England.
However, due to restrictions, the experience will be somewhat different from salon visitors.
The government has said that any businesses which open should meet the Covid-19 Secure guidelines, which could include putting screens between clients.
Earlier this month, The National Hair and Beauty Federation (NHBF) published some guidelines to help salons prepare and ensure that adequate health and safety measures are in place, such as avoiding “face-to-face” interactions with clients.
A number of European countries have already begun reopening salons including France where salons do not accept walk-in clients and everyone is asked to wear masks and gowns and use hand sanitiser gel, disinfectants and disposable gloves.
Germany has also reopened hair salons but is only allowing stylists to dry cut hair and ensure that every other salon chair is left empty. Blow-drys are discouraged and gloves must be worn until a customer’s hair is washed.
From 4 July, cinemas in England will be able to reopen, Mr Johnson confirmed on Tuesday 23 June.
However, the experience of going to watch a film will be somewhat different in a post-Covid world.
Mark Barlow, general manager at Showcase Cinemas UK explained that its cinemas have been working on what measures will be implemented to protect customers since lockdown began.
“These measures include being able to restrict capacities per auditorium to maintain social distancing requirements, as well as staggered film start times on a reduced schedule, online bookings, contactless payments throughout, Perspex shields at all till points, and wipes and hand sanitiser stations located throughout our buildings,” he said.
“We have also designed a comprehensive new cleaning programme and employee PPE requirements to ensure that our number one priority – the health and safety of everyone in our cinemas – is achieved.”