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Coronavirus: Lockdown relaxed in England as 2m rule eased

Best Salon manager Vicki Steventon as she prepares for the opening of Terry Steventon Hairdressing in Bournemouth ahead of the Prime Minister setting out plans to allow pubs, restaurants, museums and cinemas to begin reopening in the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown in England.

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Andrew Matthews/PA Media

Image caption

From 4 July hair salons can reopen along with other parts of the economy

Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers can open from 4 July in England, when social distancing rules will be eased.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people should remain 2m apart where possible but a “one metre plus” rule will be introduced.

Two households in England will also be able to meet indoors and stay overnight – with social distancing.

The prime minister warned that all steps were “reversible”.

The meeting of households will not be exclusive, but unlike the bubble system people will have to maintain social distance – so family members who live apart could not hug.

Mr Johnson said people will be encouraged to use “mitigation” – such as face coverings and not sitting face-to-face – when within 2m of each other and “where it is possible to keep 2m apart, people should”.

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Media captionBoris Johnson is cheered as he announces English pubs can reopen from 4 July

The prime minister said: “Our principle is to trust the British public to use their common sense in the full knowledge of the risks, remembering the more we open up, the more vigilant we need to be.”

The venues listed as being able to reopen include:

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants – but only with a table service indoors, and owners will be asked to keep contact details of customers to help with contact tracing
  • Hotels, holiday apartments, campsites and caravan parks – but shared facilities must be cleaned properly
  • Theatres and music halls – but they will not be allowed to hold live performances
  • In other changes weddings will be allowed to have 30 attendees, and places of worship will be allowed to hold services.

What cannot open from 4 July?

The following places will remain closed by law

  • Nightclubs and casinos
  • Bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks
  • Indoor play areas including soft-play
  • Spas
  • Nail bars and beauty salons
  • Massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Indoor fitness and dance studios, and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities
  • Swimming pools and water parks
  • Exhibition or conference centres – other than for those who work for that venue.

Read more detail on how lockdown measures are easing in England here.

Mr Johnson said that the announcement meant “our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he welcomed the statement overall, adding ” I believe the government is trying to do the right thing and in that I support them”.

He added he thought it was “safe for some children to return to school” and he urged clarity over getting all children back to school safely.

Restrictions have to lift at some point. The big question is whether the UK is moving too soon.

The number of infections has fallen dramatically.

There are now just over 1,000 new cases a day on average.

That compares to an estimated 100,000 at the peak at the end of March – we don’t know the exact figure because there was limited testing in place.

Huge progress has, therefore, been made.

But the number of infections is still significantly higher than other countries.

France and Germany are seeing less than half the number of infections that the UK is (and Germany has a larger population), while Italy has less than a quarter.

It is why there are plenty of experts, including former government chief scientific adviser Sir David King, voicing concern that restrictions are easing too quickly.

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