What you need to know about changes to social distancing and pubs reopening

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The Prime Minister has announced a series of changes to the lockdown in England from July 4.

Here is how the alterations will affect people’s lives.

– Do we have to keep to being two metres apart?

No. For people not from the same household it is now “one metre-plus”. The “plus” element is what the PM called mitigation – wearing a mask, regularly washing hands, sitting side-by-side rather than face-to-face – if a two-metre distance cannot be kept to.

Coronavirus distance
A ‘Please stay 2 metres apart’ sign on Brighton beach – the Government has reduced the restriction to ‘one metre-plus’ (Andrew Matthews/PA)

As well as reducing the social distancing requirement, Mr Johnson said two households would be able to start meeting indoors so long as the “one metre-plus” rule is observed.

Coronavirus PM
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the easing of the lockdown measures in the Commons (PA/HoC)

It means a family could see one set of grandparents on one weekend and see the other on the following weekend, said the PM.

– Can we finally hug our relatives?

If you do not live in the same household, the answer to that is still no.

Two households meeting for dinner can sit at the same table but still must not touch and should attempt to uphold the “one metre-plus” rules.

– Can we go anywhere else with another household?

It is a resounding “yes” on this front.

Mr Johnson told MPs that restaurants, pubs and “self-contained accommodation” including hotels, B&Bs and campsites can soon reopen, as long as Government guidelines on how to lower the risk of coronavirus transmission are followed.

– So can we go on a trip or to the pub with friends in England?

As long as those friends are from only one other household, then you can take a “staycation” trip together or go for a pint.

Coronavirus hotels
Hotels will be able to reopen next month, said Boris Johnson (Liam McBurney/PA)

There will be no hanging out at the bar, first of all, with table service being encouraged to reduce the amount of interaction on shared surfaces.

Restaurant, pub and bar managers will also be asked to take customers’ contact details so that, in the event of a local Covid-19 outbreak, they can be traced by the NHS and advised to self-isolate.

Coronavirus table
Table service will become the new norm when pubs and restaurants reopen (Adam Smyth/Greene King)

While there is no limit on the size of the two households visiting the watering hole together, more people cannot join in the socialising in a bid to limit the chain of virus transmission.

– What else can reopen from July 4?

The PM read out a lengthy list in the Commons of venues and attractions that can now benefit from the lockdown easing.

They include cinemas, museums, art galleries, bingo halls, community centres, hair salons, work canteens, outdoor playgrounds and gyms, as well as indoor attractions at zoos and aquariums.

Places of worship will be able to hold services once again, with weddings back on but numbers capped at 30.

Coronavirus hair
Hairdressers will have to wear visors when they open again, the PM told MPs (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Hairdressers and barbers can operate while using use face visors.

– And what will remain shut?

Venues where there is “close proximity” interaction will not be permitted to open their doors yet, the PM said.

That includes nightclubs, indoor gyms, soft-play areas, swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys and water parks.

Instead taskforces will work to ensure such businesses can “reopen as soon as possible”.

– Are there any changes to meeting up outside?

Outside restrictions remain largely the same, except that the two households now permitted to meet inside are welcome to do the same at the park, with no limit on the size of their gathering.

Parks Covid
Those meeting up outside and not from the same household will continue to be restricted to groups of six (Danny Lawson/PA)

– Should we continue to work from home? 

While the Government has not talked up ending the working from home routine that thousands of office staff have adopted since March, the list of steps that could be taken to reduce virus transmission risk might encourage employers to start calling workers back in.

Home working
The Government’s lockdown easing suggested bringing in office layout changes to accommodate the ‘one-metre plus’ rule, possibly bringing home working to an end for some staff (Joe Giddens/PA)

– Is this the end of lockdown, then?

Not fully. There are still restrictions in place but it is a significant easing and the new measures will allow people to socialise more than they have in months.

But the PM warned that local lockdowns, and even a clampdown affecting the whole country, could still be required if major Covid outbreaks occur.

– Are these changes being brought in for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

The devolved administrations “hold responsibility for their own lockdown restrictions”, Mr Johnson said on Tuesday, and would proceed “on their own judgment”.

In Northern Ireland, up to six people as of Tuesday are able to meet indoors in what the executive called a “milestone” for the region’s recovery.

Wales allowed shops and places of worship to open this week, along with the housing market, but First Minister Mark Drakeford has said his administration will not end its five-mile restriction on travel and allow holidaymakers to return until next month.

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